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Plan for closure

Mineral and metal resources are finite, meaning that the lifespan of any mine is limited. Over the next decade, many mine closures are expected, particularly in developing countries where a significant proportion of economic development and tax revenue comes from mining.

Responsible closure involves planning and designing for closure in consultation with the relevant authorities and stakeholders. It also means having adequate financial provision to enable agreed closure and post-closure commitments to be realised.

Historically, the process has relied on the mining company’s expertise to conceptualise and deliver results. In modern practice, communities and governments play a key role in creating successful closure outcomes. There is much to learn from each other and from countries with mature systems on mine closure. As such, integrated closure planning and implementation needs to capture and balance the views, concerns, aspirations, efforts, knowledge and capacity of the relevant internal and external stakeholders.

The goal is to achieve sustainable outcomes that are beneficial to the mining company and its employees, the environment and host communities.

Strengthening operational capacity

Once a mine’s mineral and metal deposits have been exhausted, mining companies are responsible for rehabilitating affected land and water courses. This means returning disturbed land to a stable and productive condition (wherever practicable), paying particular attention to environmental concerns such as the conservation of biodiversity and the restoration of pre-existing ecosystems. Responsible mining companies also commit to working with local communities to offset any potentially negative social and economic impacts of site closure.

Planning for closure is a core business practice for responsible mining companies, and must be considered in the early stages of mine design and development. Early stakeholder engagement measures are also essential, as they improve the prospects of closing a mine in a sustainable manner. Experience shows that closure is as much a managerial and stakeholder engagement issue as it is a technical one, requiring the continual testing of assumptions and recommendations to match evolving conditions and expectations.

Integrated mine closure

Integrated mine closure is a dynamic and iterative process that considers environmental, social and economic issues at an early stage of mine development and is developed throughout the life of the mine. Fundamental to this is the need to consider closure as an integral part of the mine operations’ core business.

To operationalise the key concepts of the Integrated Mine Closure: Good Practice Guide, ICMM has produced the Closure Maturity Framework tool and the Key Performance Indicators: Tool for Closure to build capacity at the asset level, and to facilitate the integration of closure into key site functions and core business practices.

Financial provisioning

Closure and legacy issues are a continuing source of material risk to ICMM company members and reputational risk for the industry. ICMM members commit to making financial provision in order to address the environmental and social aspects of closure. In support of this, ICMM has developed the guidance Financial Concepts for Mine Closure. This communicates and enhances the understanding of key financial concepts as they relate to mine closure, and provides general conceptual guidance across a wide range of circumstances.