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Best Strategies to Meet the Environmental and Legislative Requirements of Mine Closure

The most effective mine closure plan is one that incorporates continuous rehabilitation to ensure that heavy costs are not incurred at the end of the mine’s life. Developing a successful strategy which incorporates; stakeholder engagement, adequate review, reporting and importantly, monitoring, means developing objective and measurable targets. Being able quantify the rehabilitation and land management program in terms of efficiency and effectiveness will ensure that the most informed land management decisions can be made.

Mining IQ spoke with rehabilitation specialist Dee Murdoch, Associate Director at AECOM, to get her thoughts on the core areas to address in developing a strategic mine rehabilitation program.

Developing an Integrated Approach
Mining rehabilitation and closure projects face many challenges with the operations requiring objective targets in terms of land use and landform that can be measured, “ensuring an integrated approach to planning, monitoring and reporting of the mine rehabilitation and closure process with particular attention to the development of realistic and achievable post-mining land-use, and landform goals and objectives”.

According to Dee, implementing core performance indicators in this approach allows miners to quantify their rehabilitation and land management programs in terms of effectiveness, in turn measuring; the biophysical environment, the progress in developing sustainable ecosystems and activities to ensure effective social engagement.

Engaging with Stakeholders
Aligning a site’s scientific objectives with stakeholder expectations can be difficult especially with the number of land management, industry and site specific standards involved. Developing a transparent framework to “engage with all stakeholders early and often, seeking their feedback in relation to options for post mining land-use and landform” will ensure expectations are managed. Monitoring progress in order to report back to stakeholders throughout the project and confirming “the monitoring programs are collecting data which is relevant to these goals and objectives” will make the process far smoother. It will help towards establishing a culture of rehabilitation and a “whole of site commitment to the decommissioning and closure process which includes the development and implementation of a proactive approach to mine site rehabilitation”.

Using Scientifically Robust Methodologies
Monitoring methodologies are required to be underpinned by scientifically robust data that align to the closure criteria and are, “based on programs which collect the data sets which can be aligned to the post mining land-use objectives, with the data also being assessed in context of analogue sites”.

This data relates to post mining land-use aligned to stakeholder expectations, consent conditions, effective management of hazardous materials, safe and stable landscapes, viable growing media and defined plant communities.

The resulting monitoring program in turn provides a platform against which informed land management decisions can be made.