On September 23rd 2019, Prospex Institute gave a presentation on SecREEts’ approach to social acceptance at the High-Level Expert Panel on Social License to Operate (SLO). The goal of the project is to establish a stable and secure supply of rare earth elements based on a sustainable extraction from European apatite sources used in NPK fertilizer production. The approach to developing a social license to operate adopted by SecREEts, has been compared with the conceptual framework put forward by Boutilier and Thomson (2011), in both PI’s presentation and working paper, available at this link.

The presentation demonstrated that the concept developed through the mining industry by Boutilier and Thomson (2011), could plausibly have application to SecREEts, despite mining activities not falling within the scope of the project.

The SLO definition is pertinent to SecREEts, as the definition of ‘stakeholder’ (Freeman 1984) used by Boutilier and Thomson also serves as the foundation of PI’s internally developed methodology for stakeholder mapping and the four fields contained in the arrowhead model developed by Boutilier and Thomson are also relevant with regard to SecREEts.

The SecREEts project incorporates multi-level engagement, in the form of the Policy Council – an annual meeting at a European level and the yearly meetings of the Citizen Labs at the pilot sites of Porsgrunn, Norway and Ellesmere Port, UK at a local level.

The discussion around social acceptance was further developed as part of a satellite event of the EU Raw materials week on 22nd November 2019. The event was organized by Horizon 2020 projects NEMO (GA No 776846), CROCODILE (GA No 776473), TARANTULA (GA No 821159), SecREEts (GA No 776559), INFACT (GA No 776487) and CHROMIC (GA No 730471). The projects brought 6 experts, each one coming from a different sector, to collectively discuss the topic of public acceptance in the raw materials industry. Each of the experts shared one key recommendation for the European Commission to take into account when addressing public acceptance and the social impact of mineral exploration, revalorization and exploitation or recycling. More information on the key recommendations is available at this link.