In response to the challenges of population growth and associated economic sustainability, Australian governments are moving towards more structured and coordinated approaches to regional development. The Pilbara Regional Investment Blueprint (Pilbara Blueprint), developed by the Pilbara Development Commission (Commission), establishes a vision for the region that seeks diverse, innovative and resilient commercial opportunities that are underpinned by capability development, investment capture and fostering growth, as well as maintaining a strong resources and energy industry. Key challenges for the achievement of this vision include complex planning and regulatory processes, as well as competition for productive land. Concurrently, the modern Australian mining and energy industry is nearing maturity, with an increasing number of operations approaching closure and providing opportunity for the consideration of repurposing mined land and associated assets for productive economic use. Although good examples of mine repurposing exist at both the global and national levels, current mine closure planning practices within both government and industry do not readily support or encourage repurposing as a beneficial outcome. The Commission has therefore engaged with government and industry stakeholders to develop a framework that aligns the objectives of minimising post-closure mining liability and achieving sustainable regional development, and that presents a unique opportunity to shift the current mine closure paradigm. Specifically, the Commission is building from existing land access and tenure frameworks to enhance existing transformational opportunities within the Pilbara, including renewable power generation, irrigated agriculture and tourism. This paper presents the proposed repurposing framework and discusses the process of stakeholder engagement, ongoing challenges to implementation and opportunities for proof of concept.
Murphy, D. P., Fromm, J., Bairstow, R. & Meunier, D. (2019). 'A repurposing framework for alignment of regional development and mine closure'. In A. B. Fourie & M. Tibbett (Eds.), Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Mine Closure, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth (pp. 789-802).