British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

Post mining sustainable use plans vs. closure plans Robertson, A. MacG.; Devenny, D. W. (David Wallace); Shaw, Shannon C.


Mining is a temporary use of the land. Usually a mining company's interest in the land terminates with the implementation of the Closure Plan. The succeeding custodian's (and associated stakeholder's) interest is in the continued sustainable use of the land and commences only when the Closure Plan is completed. "Mine Closure Plans", while an advance on "Mine Abandonment Plans" suggest a short term planning perspective. 'Design for Closure' still appears shortsighted to the New Custodian. Defects in the Plan, which may become apparent only after a time, become the liability of the New Custodian. Poor experience with the success of closure plans, as well as the recognition that many defects are not apparent (or not recognized) at the time of custodian transfer has resulted in reluctance by the New Custodians to accept transfer. This applies particularly to mine sites where significant risk of physical instability (tailings dams which could breach) or chemical instability (leaching of contaminants) could result in substantial liability. The potential for sustainable land use, including sustained revenue generation and sustained custodial care, becomes particularly important when the reclaimed mining lands require sustained or perpetual care and maintenance (active or passive). Custodial Transfer of land, post mining, requires an extension of the concept of "designing for closure" and the development of a Post Mining Sustainable Use Plan rather than a "Closure Plan". The mining industry can do much to limit the liabilities associated with operating a mine by actively participating in, or leading efforts to define the custodial transfer process, and by developing a sustainable post mining land use. The mining industry can also provide motivation and guidance to assist in the rationalization of the widely disbursed, largely uncoordinated administration and control of post mining sustainable land-use.

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