The emergence of the ‘social licence to operate’ in the extractive industries?

Raphael Heffron, Lauren Downes, Oscar M. Ramirez Rodriguez, Darren McCauley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


The ‘social licence to operate’ (SLO) is a construct that has potential to transform the mining sector internationally. The SLO is increasing in importance because it can reduce all risks during the energy project life-cycle that are detrimental to the success of energy projects. This paper analyses how SLO's are at first perceived by interdisciplinary energy scholars before examining the legal nature of an SLO and looking at the effectiveness of such an agreement from the perspectives of both the energy company and the local community. In essence, this research seeks to address what is the legal basis of an SLO. Further, an original case study on Columbia is presented which highlights the SLO in action and its transformative effect. The paper also engages in new debates around the relationship of SLOs to related energy concepts such as the energy justice and environmental impact statements, which are also vital to energy infrastructure development.
Original languageEnglish
JournalResources Policy
Early online date24 Oct 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Oct 2018


  • Social-licence-to-operate
  • SLO
  • Energy justice
  • Energy life-cycle
  • Extractive industries
  • Columbia


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