The Social License to Operate in Tanzania: Case Studies of the Petroleum and Mining Sectors

The concept of a social license to operate (SLO) has become a key issue for companies, researchers, policy makers and other stakeholders in the extractive sector. Securing ‘social permission’ for extractive activities is increasingly seen as critical for the future profitability and sustainability of the sector. Indeed, the debate around SLO has also been extended to other economic sectors, including agriculture and pulp production. As a concept, the social license to operate is concerned with having the activities of a company accepted by the community in which the operations are to take place. This acceptance is particularly important in the mining and petroleum sectors due to the significant impacts of extractive activities on the life of communities and the environment. Despite the long history of extractive activities in Tanzania, very few studies have examined SLO from the perspective of local communities. This research, therefore, sought to assess whether SLO exists in two of Tanzania’s leading extractive sectors (mining and petroleum) by seeking the perceptions of community members and local officials in the areas around a sample of large-scale mining operations in the country.