Arctic Yearbook 2014 - Page 535

535 Arctic Yearbook 2014 This case study has shown that neither the officials and politicians of the Kirovsk and Apatity municipalities, nor the representatives of the two mining companies described here are familiar with the concept of social licensing. On the corporate side, obtaining and maintaining a high level of social license from the local communities has not been explicitly declared as one of the companies’ goals. This is typical for companies in Russia, however, where the SLO concept is quite new even in the scientific discourse. By contrast, the concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR) – one of the pillars for the social licensing concept – is widely used. The main motives for the mining companies’ social activities include the wish to demonstrate good image of the company to the authorities at all levels (federal, regional and local) and to the local community; the desire to establish a good reputation in the domestic and international business arenas; the wish to support the town which is home for the company’s employees (as the case of “Apatit” company demonstrates); and the long-lasting tradition, going back to the Soviet-era, of CSR. Furthermore, demands for CSR can also be laid down within the state mining permit (as it was in the case of the new company NWCP in our study). Additionally, the companies can be motivated by requests from different levels of governmental or political bodies and by international requirements for corporate codes of conduct. Also, an important motive, as our study has shown, is basing the company’s decision-making locally and, especially, a strong personal attachment of the top managerial staff to the towns where the companies operate. Building relations with communities on the concept of corporate social responsibility, and being motivated by internal (corporate, such as considerations of image, tradition or, in the case of strong attachment of top management to the place, a desire to support the local community) and external (institutional requirements, e.g. the state mining permit) factors, the companies do not prioritize the attitudes from the local population which, we believe, is the essence of the SLO concept. At the same time, drawing on the CSR concept, the companies possess certain levels of social license, and themes which are central to the SLO concept such as trust, acceptance, and compensation are present in the local mining discourse, though sometimes implicitly. Institutionally in Russia, relations between the municipalities and large resource-based companies often are framed by bilateral, trilateral or multilateral agreements on socio-economic partnerships between the company, municipality and/or regional government. However, so far, as a rule, the local population plays a minor role in determining their content. The study has shown that on the community side, instruments such as public hearings were not used for decisions on the content of the agreements in any of the cases studied, a quite typical situation. Moreover, changes in federal legislation related to environmental impact assessment introduced in 2006 cancelled the norm to conduct public hearings for most of the mining projects, with an exception for projects occurring on the territories of protected areas. Such factors as generally weak development of institutions of public participation and organizational weakness of civil society, typical for many of the post-communist societies, as well as often low levels of cross-community social capital do not allow strong local communities’ participation to influence mining companies’ activities. However, even under such conditions there are instruments that make it possible to voice out and to meet the local demands for socially responsible behavior of the companies. As the case of the conflict of NWPC and local plan