Alternatives analysis for mine development and reclamation Robertson, A. MacG.; Shaw, Shannon C.
Mining projects have positive impacts on society in the form of jobs, taxes and regional development. There are (at least temporary) negative impacts such as noise, aesthetics and environmental degradation. The long term or residual environmental degradation after reclamation and closure, depends substantially on the development and reclamation options selected from the wide variety of alternatives generally available. There are numerous stakeholders who are unequally affected by the range of positive and negative impacts associated with mining projects. Thus the migrant job seeker or local business owner may endorse a particular project while the recreational fisherman may resent the loss of a recreational resource. The project approval process has evolved so that, today, all stakeholders, including the proponent, regulatory agencies and community representatives, participate in the project review process. Ultimate decision making, as to whether the project may proceed, and under which circumstances (which development and reclamation options are approved) requires collective understanding of the positive and negative impacts. It also requires a framework under which stakeholders can express their concerns and communicate their assessments of the relative values of positive and negative impacts. The valuations and methodology of arriving at the compromises between the positive and negative impacts, or value 'tradeoffs', must be understood, transparent and communicatible. This paper describes how the general methodology of "Multiple Accounts Analysis" may be adapted specifically for mine development and reclamation alternatives or options evaluation. To account for all substantive impacts, a comprehensive list (ledger, or set) of 'accounts and subaccounts' is prepared (e.g. jobs, taxes, water quality, fisheries habitat etc.) to include all impacts identified as being of substantive concern by stakeholders. A measure or 'indicator value' of the impact applicable to each account is developed which describes the impacts in relevant terms (number of jobs, amount of taxes, metal concentrations in water etc.). A basis for account list development is provided. This list of accounts and indicators can be used for analysis and decision making for preferred option selection. Two forms of analysis may be used: i) An arguments-based analysis whereby the analyst presents reasoned arguments of the relevant values of indicators in accounts and comparisons (tradeoffs) between accounts, and the reader must make a subjective selection of a preferred alternative; or ii) A value-based analysis, in which the analyst assigns numerical values to the indicators in each account using ranking and scaling techniques. Tradeoffs are achieved by weighting each account prior to accumulating the numerical values in all accounts. Both methods involve subjectivity in assigning values to indicators, and in the summation and tradeoffs needed to develop a 'cumulative' assessment of the net impact (from all accounts) for each alternative. Having clear and transparent methods and processes makes it easier for all stakeholders to share opinions and come up with a consensus agreement.
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