A framework for standardised, performance-based completion criteria for mine closure and mine site relinquishment Holmes, R.; Flynn, M.; Thorpe, M. B.
Many significant advancements have been made in the mine closure process over the past several decades, including “design for closure,” the development of comprehensive mine closure planning and the regulatory requirement for financial assurances for mine site rehabilitation. However, mine closure remains a significant challenge for all major mining jurisdictions around the world. This is largely due to the amorphous nature of the process, inconsistencies in regulations across jurisdictions and inadequate management approaches. To address these challenges in mine closure, the Canada Mining Innovation Council’s Environmental Stewardship Initiative has prioritized the development of standardised, performance-based completion criteria for mine closure and the subsequent relinquishment. The criteria will allow a clear and consistent path to mine closure by defining the conditions acceptable to stakeholders, which, if met, will enable the government and regulatory agencies to accept mine sites into their custody for long-term stewardship. The criteria will serve as a key strategic planning and risk management tool for industry, regulatory agencies and mining stakeholders at large. Mining stakeholders will have certainty regarding how a site will be rehabilitated, decommissioned and closed, and it is anticipated that the criteria will drive closure management from mine design to the ultimate closure of operations. This paper provides an overview of the initiative by outlining the challenges in mine closure that the project aims to solve. The standardised closure criteria concept is defined, with examples of criteria that will likely be included in the framework. An overview of how industry and regulatory agencies will use the criteria is provided. The benefits that will likely accrue to mining stakeholders are summarised. The main benefits for industry include improved efficiency and consistency in the mine closure process as well as the promotion of a more stable and competitive investment climate. For governments and regulatory agencies, the mine closure process will become more managed and structured, thus enabling a more simplified and efficient regulatory regime. Furthermore, with a managed relinquishment process, the accrual of improperly closed (i.e. abandoned and orphaned sites) will be reduced. This will also provide a key public benefit, as public funds will not be required for associated clean-up costs. Lastly, local stakeholders will be assured that environmental performance will be central to the mine closure process with a view toward establishing positive post-mining legacies.
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