Closure planning

Robin Evans

The minerals industry offers an interesting perspective on the processes involved in assessing the social impacts of closure, as all mining operations are developed with a finite life in mind due to the non-renewable and limited nature of the resource being exploited. While the estimates of mine life vary over the course of a mine as further information about the ore deposit is developed during the mining process, as costs and prices change over time, and as new technology is invented, eventual closure is inevitable. There are large-scale operations that have been in production for many decades, but there are also many mines with extremely short lives. The latter can be due to a limited resource, but also often include sudden and unplanned closures caused by changes in commodity markets or failures in technology. Modern best practice requirements for mining operations advocate developing a closure plan during the project development phase, albeit usually with a greater focus on environmental aspects than social issues. However, the need to understand and address the social impacts of closure is increasingly being reflected in industry practice and research (e.g. Jackson, 2002; Pollett, 2009). This chapter commences with an overview of a range of closure contexts, the manner in which impact assessments have been implemented in these cases, and some of the common themes which emerge from consideration of this literature. A case study of an SIA for mine closure at Waihi in New Zealand is used to illustrate these themes. Finally, the role and scope of SIA for closure are revisited in the context of this discussion.

Evans, R. (2011). Closure planning. New directions in social impact assessment in F. Vanclay & A. M. Esteves (Eds.) New directions in social impact assessment: Conceptual and methodological advances. Edward Elgar Publishing: Cheltenham, UK.

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Book chapter
Closure planning