Post-mining land use and associated economies have become a priority issue in mine lifecycle planning amongst many major companies. Ensuring the post-mining landscape is returned to a safe and stable condition is usually the first order priority in mine closure, though achieving this is often a challenge. The drive for industry to do more than rehabilitation is also growing. One of the many drivers for this expectation is the scale of mines, with many mining leases occupying thousands of hectares. Some of this land may be used for other purposes with relatively little intervention. For the mine footprint itself, it is often not possible or feasible to return the landscape to the prior condition, although creative repurposing of mine features and elements of mine infrastructure may be an option. At the same time, these large-scale mines employ hundreds, sometimes thousands of people and consideration of economic transitions for mining workforces, notably local dependant populations, is increasingly expected of industry post closure, as employment is often positioned at the “heart” of development. In this article, we reframe mining as a temporary land use. This approach positions post-mining land use as intrinsic to the mine lifecycle, including the planning and operational phases. We developed a global database of repurposing cases building on the S&P Global Market Intelligence database, relevant literature and other publicly available information. We provide an overview of the findings and the themes to emerge from this global repurposing database of 141 cases. Our findings include: our general observations on the research process; an analysis of the most common repurposing land uses; factors influencing repurposing, including factors internal and external to the company; initial observations about industry approaches to repurposing. Finally, we argue that reconceptualising mine ‘closure’ and the associated mining legacies is an essential operational shift the extractives industry, notably the major companies, will need to make to keep pace with societal and local community expectation.
Keenan, J., & Holcombe, S. (2021). Mining as a temporary land use: A global stocktake of post-mining transitions and repurposing. The Extractive Industries and Society, 8(3), 100924. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.exis.2021.100924