The role of social impact assessment (SIA) in the development of a mine closure plan in regional Australia

Zobaidul Kabir

Mine closure is an integral part of the lifecycle of a mining project. The closure of a mine has social impacts on the surrounding community and employees who have gradually become dependent on the mine financially, culturally and emotionally. By recognising the consequences of mine closure on local communities, companies respond to the assessment and management of the social impacts. While there are applications of social impact assessments (SIAs) for areas available in different sectors, there are limited practices of SIA for mine closure planning, and there is a lack of information on the role of SIA in mine closure planning. Importantly, there is a dearth of information on how SIA can play an important role to make a mine closure plan by bringing all stakeholders together. This empirical study investigated the contribution of SIA on the development of a coal mine closure plan in regional Queensland in Australia. By integrating social issues and community concerns into the closure planning process, through SIA of the closure planning, the mining company, its employee and the local community were collectively able to formulate the mine closure. This study shows how the SIA can be used to bring relevant stakeholders together to formulate the plan for mine closure and make it acceptable to the stakeholders including company, local communities and employees. Practical policy implications include community engagement through SIA and an assurance of the socioeconomic security of the local community and employees of the mine. It is crucial to undertake SIA at the beginning of the closure planning process and involve the relevant stakeholders to formulate closure plan acceptable to all relevant parties. For the development of a mine closure plan, particular attention is required to address the community’s concerns and the development of a solid relationship with the community through negotiations. It is expected that the findings of this study will be useful to researchers, practitioners and other interested persons, not only in Australia but also in other countries with a similar context.

Kabir, Z. (2022). The Role of Social Impact Assessment (SIA) in the Development of a Mine Closure Plan in Regional Australia. Journal of Environmental Assessment Policy and Management, 2250015.

Journal article
The role of social impact assessment (SIA) in the development of a mine closure plan in regional Australia