Initiating a multi-stakeholder participatory approach to mine closure planning: The Rosebery case study

Sandy Worden, Sarah Mackenzie and Pam Bourke

Rosebery mine is an underground zinc, copper, lead and gold operation owned by MMG. It is located in the town of Rosebery on the west coast of Tasmania, around 300km northwest of Hobart and 125km south of Burnie. Rosebery is Tasmania’s longest operating mine, having been in continuous production since 1936. Over that time, it has had an average mine life of five years. This means that exploration and discovery has continued alongside mine operation, and at any time in Rosebery mine's history, it has only had sufficient identified reserves to continue operating for five years. Based on current conditions, Rosebery is expected to stop mining between 2024 and 2029.

Planning for closure is part of a mine’s core business and preliminary planning should be undertaken early in the mine lifecycle, even before mining starts. As the closure date draws closer, planning becomes more detailed. MMG has had mine closure plans in place for Rosebery for many years. The company’s internal processes stipulate that it must start formal, detailed closure studies when the remaining mine life reaches seven years.

Consequently, in 2019, MMG invested about $15 million to progress detailed mine closure studies for Rosebery mine and the nearby Hercules mine, which has been in care and maintenance for more than 15 years. Apart from looking at the biophysical aspects, these studies will also address the socio-economic aspects of mine closure, such as infrastructure, services, land use, economic vitality and the social well-being of employees, contractors, suppliers, residents and community groups.

As a first step of its socio-economic study, MMG engaged the Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining (CSRM), part of the University of Queensland’s Sustainable Minerals Institute, to implement the Town Transition Tool (TTT), a participatory framework for opening the conversation about mine closure among all stakeholders, including the company, local government and the community.

This case study describes the TTT process and outcomes. 

Worden, S., Mackenzie, S., & Bourke, P. (2022). Initiating a multi-stakeholder participatory approach: The Rosebery case study. CRC TiME Limited., Brisbane, Australia.

Zinc, copper, lead and gold
Initiating a multi-stakeholder participatory approach to mine closure planning: The Rosebery case study