British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

Planning for closure in the post-industrial age : a proposed framework for building more sustainable mining communities Roberts, Stephen A.; Veiga, Marcello M. (Marcello Mariz)


The focus of mine closure policies and practice in British Columbia has undergone considerable change since the first closure laws were enacted in the late 1960s. Even though the technical standards for determining a successful mine reclamation project have risen considerably over the past three decades, the public's growing hostility toward the industry suggests that expectations have risen even faster. With terms such as "ecological footprint", "carrying capacity", and "sustainability" becoming part of the language of everyday discourse, the mining industry is under enormous pressure to demonstrate that mine closure and reclamation practices are consistent with the public's increasingly sophisticated understanding of what constitutes sustainable development. In response the mining industry has begun to integrate sustainability principles into their operational and closure planning, but developing a framework for measuring actual system performance remains elusive. Sustainable Development Indicators (SDIs) provide a tool for identifying and measuring progress toward sustainability but a problem with many of the commonly used indicators is that they were developed by experts for experts and as a result fail to resonate with the public. With a more pluralistic, inclusive selection process SDIs have the potential to significantly alter the public's perception that mining is antithetical to the concept of sustainability. The authors conclude by proposing a framework for creating indicators of reclaimed areas that utilizes a heuristic model to integrate technical and ecological data with local knowledge. This model would assist reclamation planners in determining which indicators are critical in shaping the opinions of the different stakeholder groups.

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