Good practice requires the integration of closure into business planning and decision making at the earliest stages of a site’s development, writes ICMM’s Alice Evans.
This ensures the identification of closure threats and opportunities from the start and helps companies to proactively reduce risk. Effective integration also makes it easier and more cost effective to achieve final closure objectives and can improve the opportunities for the land’s possible relinquishment back to the local authority or successful transition of a site to its next land use.
In 2019, the ICMM published its 'Integrated Mine Closure: Good practice guide' to help companies plan for an effective, integrated and responsible mine closure. To support our members and the wider industry turn the theory in the Guide into actionable criteria, ICMM has developed a 'Closure Maturity Framework' to help companies map their current position, motivate improvement and measure the state of each of their sites’ progress on their journey to achieving sustainable closure – alongside their aspirational level – to drive continuous improvement.
Benefits of mapping, motivating and measuring the closure journey
The Closure Maturity Framework serves as a communication tool that drives conversation between business units with the aim of creating positive change and improving closure performance across the industry. It can be used to foster a common understanding and align decision making across the business on where closure planning and implementation are currently, and where they could be.
To do this, the Closure Maturity Framework outlines a pathway towards achieving a desired post-closure land use and closure vision while considering relevant aspects of mine design, operations, and technology.
Feedback from ICMM members during the development of the Closure Maturity Framework has been very positive:
It is easy to use, clear and succinct. The assessment process created some new perspectives on opportunities available for closure.
It is useful in providing a snapshot of the status of closure planning within the Group and can be used for internal awareness, communication, target and objective setting.
The examples provided in the User Guide made for easy and quick completion of the assessment in the Excel Tool.
Great visual aids to assist with presenting information and building improvement action plans.
This will assist us with our closure discussions beyond the SHEQ and Finance departments.
How to use the Closure Maturity Framework
1. User Guide
The User Guide provides an introduction and overview of the methodology behind the Closure Maturity Framework. It contains information on categorising the sites’ development stages, describes each of the different maturity levels and provides supplementary information to facilitate the assessment of closure maturity at the site level using the Excel Tool.
There are two layouts presented in the User Guide to facilitate assessment of closure maturity, both of which portray the same information and reflect the criteria used in the Tool. Depending on the intended purpose, one layout may be more suitable than the other to assess current and aspirational closure maturity levels as detailed in the table below.
Site development stage:
- Exploration, design and construction
- Early operations
- Established operations
- Pre-closure execution
- Closure execution and post closure monitoring
Beneficial for internal assurance reviews or a single site.
Closure element as aligned to ICMM’s Integrated Mine Closure: Good Practice Guide:
- Integration into LOA planning
- Knowledge base
- Closure vision, principles & objectives
- Post closure land use
- Engagement for closure
- Threats and opportunities
- Closure activities
- Success / closure / design criteria
- Progressive closure
- Social and economic transition
- Closure costs
- Closure execution plan
- Relinquishment / successful transition
Beneficial for understanding the status of specific closure elements, providing a group level overview across multiple sites or to understand how an element is integrated and evolves through the life of a site.
2. Excel Tool
Once the User Guide has been read and the criteria understood, the assessment can be undertaken in the Excel Tool. The Tool demonstrates the results of the maturity assessment in a clear concise manner through auto population of graphs and charts. These visual aids are to facilitate engagement, help raise awareness and communicate key messages between departments. Based on the outcomes of the assessment and discussions, improvement action plans can be built.
The Tool also provides a score for both current and aspirational site maturity, which can be used to track performance over time if the assessment is repeated periodically. This function can also be used to aggregate results from multiple sites to understand closure performance within a company portfolio.
The closure maturity criteria tables are also included in the Excel Tool to encourage detailed consideration of each requirement, as well as develop work plans to help achieve the aspirational level.
ICMM has developed this Tool based on the elements of the Good Practice Guide. Users are encouraged to customise the criteria to suit their own organisational requirements and to align with company standards and policies.
We look forward to seeing how this new tool is used by our members and the wider industry to improve closure performance at the site, company and industry level.