Integrated mine closure is a dynamic and iterative process that takes into account environmental, social and economic considerations at an early stage of mine development.
Fundamental to this process is the need to consider closure as an integral part of the mine operations’ core business. The structure of our 'Integrated Mine Closure: Good practice guide' reflects this process; providing guidance on delivering key elements of mine closure planning and implementation, including:
- Integration into life of mine planning and early definition of the closure vision, principles and objectives supported by both early engagement for closure plan development with stakeholders and development of a knowledge base where data will be collected and updated throughout the mining life cycle. The definition of the closure vision, principles and objectives is underpinned by considerations of potential post-closure land use of the former mine site, and a formal identification and assessment of risks and opportunities throughout iterations of the closure plan.
- Implementation of various closure activities to implement closure, both during the mine life as progressive closure and as part of final closure. These closure activities should be tied to meeting specific closure objectives that have been defined and agreed. Monitoring will be undertaken to document and evaluate the effectiveness of the closure activities at meeting agreed closure objectives and the success criteria. The development of well-defined success criteria, with input and agreement with appropriate stakeholders, are key to completing closure works.
- Implementation of progressive closure, which involves the implementation of closure activities during the operating life of a mine providing opportunities to test and demonstrate the effectiveness of closure activities, validate success criteria and build trust with communities and the regulators. It provides opportunities to generate learnings that can be incorporated into closure planning throughout the mining life cycle.
- Planning and preparation for social transition to help reduce the negative impacts of social change for the workforce and communities connected to the mine site and improve the legacy of benefits from mining activities.
Understanding of closure costs for the purposes of planning, comparing alternatives, understanding financial liabilities and complying with reporting and financial assurance obligations.
Developing and updating a closure execution plan while ensuring adequate closure governance structures are in place to ensure closure planning is integrated into the life of mine planning. The closure execution plan identifies actions and resources required during the mine life to support planning and implementation of closure, while appropriate governance ensures effective allocation of resources to closure across a range of disciplines.
Periodic evaluation of appropriate ‘what-if’ scenarios during the mine life to help minimise the disruption caused by such unplanned events. Unplanned changes in circumstances can result in temporary or sudden closure of mines.
Relinquishment of closed sites to a third party, which may not always be possible, but it should be a desirable endpoint of the life of asset (the entire mining life cycle, including post-closure). Detailed planning and robust execution of closure throughout the mining life cycle can help increase the probability of attaining successful relinquishment.
Visit our dedicated integrated mine closure website for more details or download our PDF.