The Emerging Conciousness in MiningWed, 10/16/2019 - 18:26
Social license does not exist, says Managing Director of FullSpectrum Leadership René Krist, which focuses on empowering and aligning the human commitments of any operation. He explains that the term social license to operate has become an overused response in an industry pressured by popular concerns and that it is not only ambiguous, it is also inaccurate. “When I hear the term social license, I ask people to reach into their pockets and show me where their social license is. There is no issuing authority.”
If a company cannot go to a government entity to receive its social license but nevertheless needs it to operate, how does it solve this conundrum? According to Krist, the key is to shift our relationship with the term. “Social license is an artificial construct that many mining companies pursue because they require social acceptance on an ongoing basis in order to advance the long-term economic viability of their projects,” he says. “In our experience, when all those with a vested interest in contributing to that economic viability — company, management, workers, union, community, government – are freed up and can make choices independently of one another, all the contractual restrictions and compliance that a social license implies become unnecessary because collaboration on behalf of mutual success just happens.”
Economic viability is the road to independence, Krist adds. “The role of the mining industry in the future must be understood as providing an economic engine for the long-term viability of the communities that it serves,” he adds. “An economy is created by the imagination and inspiration of the people. Mining must be seen as a tool that prepares, equips and empowers people to create their own economy based on the long-term possibilities that they see for themselves.”
FullSpectrum Leadership’s most recent work in Mexican mining was with Primero Mining’s San Dimas mine in Durango, now owned by First Majestic, during its return to viability from 2012 to 2015. “During this period, it achieved a zero-accidents rate and record productivity, while changing its management philosophy, benefiting from unprecedented employee and community engagement,” Krist says. “FullSpectrum learning, leadership and communication are an invitation to the entire spectrum of mining stakeholders to create the future that they are committed to, each taking ownership for their own reasons and not only those of the company.”
As each mine, operation, and community is unique and at different phases of their own development, Krist asserts that there is no one approach to address them all. “A key consideration is to understand at what stage you are engaging key players in their own individual development cycle. This, coupled with an awareness of the maturity phase of the company, is essential in the design.” In this regard, Krist emphasizes that mining companies have three assets to develop: the physical, financial, and human. “The first two assets have been developed almost to their pinnacles but we have not kept pace with the human asset. If we are not fully engaging our humanity, we can never reach the full potential of operations, nor its contribution to the community.”
In awakening this emerging consciousness of full contribution, FullSpectrum Leadership has developed a methodology by which there is a confluence of human learning, communications and leadership. “It is about understanding the relationship between the human being and the nature of that human being’s commitment to something. For example, where does it come from, how does it manifest itself, and how can it be aligned to the mutual interests of mining companies, communities, workers and government?” Krist says. “Much of our work is about surfacing and aligning these commitments. This manifestation gives people a sense that what they do and who they are is both meaningful and powerful. They have a purpose and they make a difference.”
Applying this premise to local communities and the social license to operate puts the magnifying glass on what mining makes available for people to generate a livelihood. It is like bringing a piano to a community that did not have one, teaching people to play it and then taking the piano away and leaving the community with no instrument to practice what it has learned. “Their reliance on the mine or company for both the provision of the instrument and the lesson has made them dependent,” Krist says.