British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

Design for closure. Does it really work? Marsland, Rob; Wylie, Shawnese


Since the 1980s mines have been designed and permitted with an objective of minimizing long-term liability. This concept has been called 'Designing for Closure'. Thus the permitting process regulates both the construction/operating impacts as well as the long-term, post-closure, impacts. This paper examines the success of the initial closure design, developed at the EIA/permitting stage, at predicting the final design configurations and identifies lessons for permitting new mines. The successes and shortcomings of the original mine design and conceptual closure plans at minimizing long-term liability will be discussed. Examples are drawn from a mine which was permitted in the late 1980's through the early 1990s. This was a mine "designed for closure" operated in B.C., for which final closure designs have nearly been developed in preparation for immediate implementation. This paper examines the issues surrounding final closure and discusses the changes to final design which resulted from operational changes during the life of the mine. Some of the unique technical issues from the property are discussed. These relate primarily to water management and the management of potentially acid generating materials. For example, it was decided to change the management plan for the PAG waste rock from a blended dump to a water cover. However, the tailings impoundment was not originally designed with this capacity.

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