Mine closure

Commonwealth of Australia

This revised handbook addresses mine closure, one of the themes in the Leading Practice Sustainable
Development (LPSD) Program.

The future of the mining industry is dependent on the legacy it leaves. Industry reputation is affected when mines are abandoned or long-term detrimental environmental impacts emerge because they were not appropriately addressed during the LoM. The industry today recognises that to gain access to future resources it needs to demonstrate that it can effectively manage and close mines with the support of the communities in which it operates. Ongoing engagement with the community throughout the LoM makes good business sense for companies as they seek to contribute to the building of sustainable regional communities through long-term partnerships.
The word ‘legacy’ is used many times in this mine closure handbook and is a critical term. The word is generally used with a negative connotation by the industry and its detractors, but in reality legacy is defined as and implies ‘a gift handed down’. However, it is acknowledged that a legacy can be either positive or negative, depending on your point of view. Social equity and a new way of looking at the resources legacy are needed now, as conflict over humankind’s search for minerals and use of minerals, and the resource input necessary to extract and process resources, have a massive global effect. However, mining is a vital primary industry concerned with
obtaining or providing natural raw materials for conversion into commodities and products for the consumer. In economic terms, it is those primary industries that decide our economic success. The economic gift of the resource legacy brings responsibility for all parties and is therefore broadly discussed in this handbook. Mine closure is a process. To be successful, it should commence with early planning, involve progressive rehabilitation during operations, and culminate with final decommissioning, rehabilitation and relinquishment. Closure may be only temporary in some cases, or may lead into a program of care and maintenance. In this sense, the term ‘mine closure’ encompasses a wide range of drivers, processes and outcomes. Mine closure and rehabilitation ultimately determine the nature of the legacy left behind as a post-closure land use for future generations. If they are not done in a planned and effective manner, throughout the LoM, a site may continue to be hazardous and a source of pollution for many years to come. The overall objective of mine relinquishment is to prevent or minimise adverse long-term environmental, physical, social and economic impacts, and to create a stable landform suitable for some agreed subsequent land use.

Commonwealth of Australia. (2016). Mine closure (Leading Practice Sustainable Development Program for the Mining Industry). DFAT: Canberra. Retrieved from DIIS website https://www.industry.gov.au/sites/default/files/2019-05/lpsdp-mine-closure-handbook-english.pdf

Mine closure