Transition to closure

The transition to closure incorporates staged planning processes for the end of mining, environmental rehabilitation and decommissioning of mining assets, plus activities associated with creating post-mining futures.

This study identifies mining regions facing the potential closure of important mines and profiles their relative capacity to transition to post-mining alternatives.

The stages of this progression are influenced by a multitude of mining–related and regional factors that extend beyond the control of a single mine, company or government authority.

The systematically compiled inventory of meta-data on 554 global mining regions and 46 mining regions in transition provides a baseline for more granular studies of transition processes in diverse mining regions.

The results are of particular interest to USA, Australia, and Canada and to companies operating in them. These countries each have > 25 mining regions and > 10% global mining regions in transition.


of global mining regions are in transition to closure.

Matching geo-location coordinates to datasets of mining and regional contextual factors in 3 steps

12 least constrained regions 27 constrained regions 7 most constrained regions Identifying regions Identifying miningregions in transition Analysing capacity ofMRITs to transition 16,171 administrative regions554 mining regions 46 mining regions in transition 1 2 3

Step 1: Where are the world’s mining regions?

Administrative regions with 3 or more mining projects within ≤ 50km of each other

Mining regions are located in 79 countries; 57% are in countries covering vast territorial areas. The USA has one-quarter of all mining regions.

Australia, India, China, Canada and Russia each has more than 4% of global mining regions. Between 7% and 94% of the administrative jurisdictions in these countries are mining regions.

Countries with > 25 mining regions
  • R&Rs in mining regions range from 0.04Mt to 72,634Mt and the median value is 279 Mt.
  • A median of 20% of mines in a region are already closed
  • On average, an extra 13% of mines will close within 10 years
  • Seven regions contain > 100 mines each
Top 5 primary comodities by mining regions
Hover over graph segments for details.


Mining regions

use primarily open cut mining methods

Step 2: Which mining regions are in transition?

In 40 out of 46 MRITs > 50% of mines extract the same primary commodity (especially gold, coal and copper).

Over 200 of the mines in MRITs are already closed. Median is one-third closed.

About 170 others are closing within 10 years; averaging close to another 30% in each region.

Intensity of mining in MRITs:

  • R&Rs range 296-26,919 Mt with middle value of 776 Mt. That is almost 3 times that for mining regions as a whole
  • The number of operating or closed mines in a region ranges from 3 to 56


MRITs are in each of

Australia, Canada and USA

The mapping details provided in this presentation and report have also been constructed in Google Earth.

The interactive Google Earth file provides much greater depth and functionality than can be displayed here.

Click here for instructions about downloading and using the Google Earth file with images and details of the 46 MRITs.

Step 3: What is a region’s capacity to transition?

Level of development Socio-economic dimension High development in education, health andincome enhances capacity to transition Ref: UNDP’s Human Development Index (HDI) TIER 1 12 REGIONS All high humandevelopment TIER 2 27 REGIONS All high humandevelopment TIER 3 7 REGIONS All medium or lowhuman development Remoteness Demographic dimension Remote and sparsely populated regions have lesscapacity to transition Ref: CIESIN 2015 residential population density TIER 1 12 REGIONS All rural TIER 2 27 REGIONS 24 rural3 urban TIER 3 7 REGIONS 6 rural1 urban Governance and regulation Governance dimension High quality governance supports greatertransition capacity Ref: Worldwide Governance Indicators (WGI) TIER 1 12 REGIONS All satisfactorygovernance TIER 2 27 REGIONS 11 with governancecontraints TIER 3 7 REGIONS All less satisfactorygovernance Modification of natural environment Environmental dimension An environment highly modified by human activityconstrains transition capacity Ref: Global Human Modification (GHM) TIER 1 12 REGIONS Largely intactenvironment TIER 2 27 REGIONS 21 with highly modifiedenvironments TIER 3 7 REGIONS 6 with highly modifiedenvironments Water risks Environmental dimension High risks to regulation, quality and quantityof water constrain transition capacity Ref: Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas TIER 1 12 REGIONS All low risk TIER 2 27 REGIONS 20 with highwater risks TIER 3 7 REGIONS 6 with highwater risks Dependence on mining Socio-economic dimension High dependence on mining reducestransition capacity Ref: ICMM’s Mining Contribution Index (MCI) TIER 1 12 REGIONS 3 dependent, 9 moderateTrend falling TIER 2 27 REGIONS All but 2 are dependentTrend rising in 9 regions TIER 3 7 REGIONS All dependent with 3 > 80%Trend equal rising & falling Contextual factors Hover over iconograph for details Level of development Dependence on mining Water risks Modification ofnatural environment Governance & regulation Remoteness

Different configurations of factors in the RESET (Regional Economic, Social and Environmental Transition) framework enable or constrain a region’s capacity to transition:

  • RESET incorporates socio-economic, environmental and governance dimensions – key pillars of sustainability that influence capacity to transition.
  • A demographic dimension captures remoteness from population centres, another contextual factor that influences capacity to transition.

Many factors could be used to assess these dimensions. RESET uses six high-level factors with international coverage in publicly available data sources.

There are three tiers of regions with contrasts between various factors and how they interact.


MRITs (50%)

are in mining dependent countries

What is the significance of this research?

Spectrum of capacity to transition

  • The relative capacity of global mining regions to transition spans a spectrum from those more favourably equipped to those with more constraints to manage.
  • The range of MRIT characteristics and assets interact – with each other, with the context and with exogenous factors. These combinations and interactions lie at the heart of a region’s strategic options and capacity to transition.
  • Three configurations of regional factors found in the MRITs imply that different priorities will sustain the transition across regions and that effective transition planning needs to be sensitive to the regional context.

Contribution of the research

  • The evidence-based understanding developed in this study provides a foundation for managing the mine closure transition with agility and transformative partnerships.
  • Similarities and differences between MRITs reveal their relative capacity to reinvent themselves and change development trajectories after mining declines or ceases.
  • Implications for human development are more acute in Tier 3. Other implications relate to closure scheduling and suggest collaborative regional approaches and productive post-mining alternatives should be priorities for all.

Gold &

Priority commodities for action



should prioritise specific guidance on socio-economic closure transitions