Mannkal Economic Education Foundation

Mannkal Student Internship Blog

Gavin Rogers – Fraser Institute | Week 9

Gavin Rogers

6 February 2017

After finishing up last week’s blog on Thursday afternoon, without hesitation I eagerly scooted off to meet up with some friends to celebrate Australia day. Earlier in my trip I had the grand idea of looking up an “Aussies in Vancouver” Facebook page, and lo and behold I managed to meet a bunch of great people from it.

I know you’re probably thinking how clichéd and unadventurous that sounds, but they have been great companions throughout my time here and a few of them I hope to stay in contact with when we’re all back in the motherland.

Along with Australia day itself and all the traditions that come with it, January 26th also marks the day of one of my best friend’s birthday. This has fostered Australia day into becoming somewhat of a religious experience for me, and I look forward to it more than Christmas and my own birthday.

This year round was no exception! We enjoyed the triple J hottest 100 at a bar downtown and courtesy of a Pabst Blue Ribbon promotion (American equivalent of VB for those that are unaware). I even won a singlet! Perhaps an insulated parka would have been more appropriate, but beggars can’t be choosers. I also got the opportunity to bring in the Chinese New Year with the Fraser family! I’m officially all celebrated out.

My search continues this week for good quality contrarian articles discussing social licence. As a reminder from last week, social licence can be loosely and contentiously defined as the intangible relationship or informal agreement between a mining company and the civil society in which it operates. Ken, the director of Natural Resources at the Fraser Institute, is writing a piece critiquing the inherent ambiguity of the term, and has tasked me with finding literature sources beyond the traditional status quo.

Much like Trump’s justification for draining the swamp, the gradual adoption and entrenchment of social licence into the extraction industry over the past two decades has left its implications largely unquestioned.

The vast majority of literature resounds with this suggestion, stating that social licence is now a critical aspect of the extraction industry. But rarely elaborating on what explicit benefit or clarity it provides beyond legislated and regulated social and environmental policies. Interestingly, according to interviews by the CSIRO, the executives of a number of large mining firms in Australia agree with this sentiment.

It is likely that they have had little say in this becoming the norm and are simply keeping the peace.

It is intriguing that such a vague concept could be considered an optimal solution for any stakeholder, be it the mining company themselves or the civil society in which it operates. Surely contractual development and environmental obligations would provide clearer strategy direction for executives and greater surety to the expectations of civil society? I’m not sure that I will get to the bottom of this any time soon, so don’t hold your breath.

Comments are closed.