Mine closures in remote regions: Policy options and implications

Ciaran O'Faircheallaigh

Three general policy options are available to governments when a remote mine is threatened with closure: to refrain from any direct intervention and allow 'market forces' to effect a redistribution of human and other resources left idle by closure; to allow closure to proceed but to invest public funds in an attempt to broaden the economic base of the mining community concerned; or to provide public assistance to the mining project to prevent its closure. The existing academic literature provides considerable information on the social, economic, and psychological effects of mine closure, and some information on attempts by mining communities to diversify their economic base (see, for example, Bradbury and Wolfe 1983; Energy, Mines and Resources Canada 1982; Detomasi and Gartrell 1984; Wojciechowski 1984; see also, Canadian Journal of Community Mental health, Special Supplement No. 1, 1983). It pays little attention to the provision of public assistance to prevent closure, though such assistance has in fact been widely applied during recent years and has important implications for resource allocation. More generally, there is a paucity of work that attempts to analyse systematically the local, regional, and national costs and benefits associated with alternative policy options, and to suggest criteria which might inform public policy choices in relation to specific projects threatened with closure. This chapter uses case study material from Australia and Canada to analyse the implications of each of the three basic policy options mentioned above. It also attempts to suggest a framework of analysis which public authorities might utilise in deciding how to respond to threatened mine closures.

O'Faircheallaigh, C. (1992). Mine closures in remote regions: Policy options and implications. In C. Neil, M. Tykkyläinen & J. Bradbury (Eds.), Coping with closure: An international comparison of mine town experiences (pp. 99-118). London; New York: Routledge.

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Book chapter
Australia, Canada
Mine closures in remote regions: Policy options and implications