Authors: Wilson, C; Mandke, P; Harding, L

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Wilson, C, Mandke, P & Harding, L 2022, 'Social licence to operate through mine closure transition: lessons from theory and practice', in AB Fourie, M Tibbett & G Boggs (eds), Mine Closure 2022: Proceedings of the 15th International Conference on Mine Closure, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 199-206,

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Effective and meaningful participation in the mine closure planning process is a commonly prescribed goal of leading industry best practice guidance. The expected outcome is a social licence to operate for the companies, sustainable regions for governments and lasting legacies for communities. However, the extent to which this objective translates into practice is not well understood conceptually or empirically. In this paper, we draw on both literature and project experience to outline conceptual factors that are understood to contribute to a social licence to operate during mine closure processes. Specifically, we outline how social impact assessment (SIA) can be used as a practical tool to assist mine companies achieve and maintain what we term a ‘social licence to close’ during mine closure processes and provide examples of the application of SIA in successful closure planning programs. We argue that systematic and research-driven consultation and collaboration with stakeholders, anchored within the SIA process, is a powerful tool to gain trust, understand impacts of closure specific to each stakeholder group and develop meaningful and effective measures for transition to a post-mining future. This paper will be of interest to industry practitioners seeking to optimise their closure efforts from a social performance perspective.

Keywords: mine closure, social licence to operate, social impact assessment, stakeholder engagement

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