Moving beyond environmental liability to achieve sustainable social and economic outcomes
Mining and resource projects are a temporary land use developed and operated under regulated tenure or licencing that must be relinquished once resource exploitation is complete. Generally relinquishment is regulated for safety, environmental protection and remediation of operational impacts. But under contemporary corporate social responsibility frameworks, many mining companies are now also seeking to understand how their contribution to local and regional communities can be sustained beyond the closure and relinquishment of their operations. This includes understanding their ability to close and relinquish operations, ensuring return on investment to shareholders and facilitating development of new projects. While many mining companies aspire to reduce liability and reinforce their social licence to operate, very few mine sites have been relinquished in either Australia or other key mining regions around the globe (Butler and Bentel, 2011). Nevertheless, successful and sustainable mine closure can be achieved through commercial approaches to mine closure that take advantage of ongoing human and economic occupation (Harvey, 2016). Such successful transition to alternative land use is supported by case studies presented in the hallmark publication 101 Things to do with a Hole in the Ground (Pearman, 2009) as well as more recent examples such as Genex’s Kidston power generation projects in Queensland, which look to successfully transition the closed Kidston mine into hydro and solar power generation facilities.
Murphy, D. & Heyes, J. (2016). Mine closure – are we using the right drivers? Bulletin (AusIMM), October. Retrieved from https://www.ausimmbulletin.com/feature/mine-closure-are-we-using-the-right-drivers/