Land Access and Social Licence to Operate
Social Licence to Operate (SLO) refers to the level of community acceptance or approval needed to obtain support for mining operations. This is a significant issue for the industry as a lack of community acceptance can cause delays and extra costs to projects. A SLO is not a single licence that can be granted and retained according to prescribed rules or conditions. Community and stakeholder attitudes can change over time and maintaining a SLO is an ongoing process lasting the life of the mine.
A range of factors influence communities’ views on mining activity, including:
- the sector’s environmental and health and safety performance;
- confidence in regulation and trust in governments to enforce regulation;
- perceptions of the sector’s contribution to the economy and society (at an individual, community and national level); and
- the sector’s commitment to consultation and engagement with communities, Indigenous stakeholders and other industries.
The Australian Government is committed to ensuring the mining industry works with communities to maintain a SLO. The Australian Government’s work with state and territory governments on the Land Access for Resources Working Group (LARWG) is one initiative aimed at addressing this issue.
The LARWG was established by the Energy Council in 2009 and is comprised of officials from Commonwealth, state, and territory governments with an interest in or responsibility for the onshore minerals resources sector, including productivity issues.
The LARWG is responsible for identifying, developing, delivering and promoting strategic priorities and providing advice on land access and other community engagement issues arising in the onshore mineral resources sector in order to:
- ensure that Australia’s resources sector remains internationally competitive and attractive to investors, though the adoption of a responsible approach to exploration and resource development, and transparent and consistent regulation;
- ensure that industry is able to maintain access to land for exploration and resource development; and
- ensure Australians are confident in the regulation of exploration and resource development, and appreciate the important contribution these make to Australia’s economy and the net benefits to local communities.
Current LARWG work is focussed on the Energy Council priority to promote community confidence and engagement with a strong focus on:
- improving local community engagement through the promotion of leading practice approaches;
- transparency of regulatory processes and data sharing;
- facilitating coexistence of resources and energy development and other land uses to encourage the growth of multi-industry regional communities; and
- improving public communication to address misinformation around the risks and impacts associated with resource development.
For more information about the Multiple Land Use Framework email: LAWG@industry.gov.au