The SLO concept originated in the mining industry but over recent years its use has also been extended over large infrastructure, energy, extractive and industrial projects. Of relevance, given public opposition to renewable and low carbon energy infrastructure deemed by many as necessary to fighting climate change and facilitating the ongoing energy transition, it has been extended to incentivise such deployment. At the same time, it is also being used to improve the acceptability (or reduce barriers) to fossil fuel projects.

In simple terms, the SLO concept refers to:

  1. the ongoing acceptance of a company or industry’s standard business practices and operating procedures by its employees, stakeholders and the general public; and
  2. the level of acceptance or approval by local communities and stakeholders of proposed developments and their operations.

Specifically, the SLO concept can be summarised as attempts to secure acceptance by local communities and stakeholders, in order to build public trust in such activities and prevent social conflict, whereas such attempts are premised on engagement between mining companies, governments and civil society to ensure that mineral resource extraction contributes to nation­al and local development, and that damaging impacts on host communities and the environment are mitigated or otherwise managed.