Trends and Issues
Historically, mine decommissioning and closure has focused on the environmental aspects of land reclamation and rehabilitation. In recent years, the emphasis has expanded to include the social, cultural and economic impacts. Mine closure now requires an integrated, multidisciplinary approach with a real awareness towards planning for the social and environmental changes that will occur. Companies understand that they should begin planning for closure at the earliest phases of mine development and include active participation from all stakeholders.
Implementing plans for a successful mine closure can be challenging, particularly as these plans take place over many years as they are cumulative and wide-ranging. However, mine closure can bring new opportunities to a community. Maximizing the potential for a sustainable, long-term, positive impact requires community involvement, good planning and strong leadership.
Why is This Important to Our Stakeholders?
The closure of a mine can cause significant change to the social norms established in a community while a mine was in operation. These changes can be communicated, understood and mitigated with community involvement in the closure-planning process from the outset. A mutual understanding and multi-stakeholder involvement in closure planning can lead to new opportunities post-closure that are meaningful for a community.
Why is This Important to Goldcorp?
We believe mine closure is critical for the sustainability of our operations and of the communities where we mine. For this reason, we have created a new business unit that focuses solely on our approach to closure. For us, improving our mine rehabilitation and closure practices is important for:
- Enhancing our social licence – Through inviting public and regulatory scrutiny of our closure planning and practices, we have the opportunity to earn and increase the support of stakeholders throughout the mine life cycle.
- Prioritizing and reducing risk – Early planning prepares us for the future. Proactive designs and active restoration result in stable landforms and successful long-term restoration of the land and water.
- Improving the closure process – A closed mine is a long-term responsibility. Improving our planning and rehabilitation activities in unison with the operating phase of a mine will help us better manage environmental rehabilitation and mitigate the impact on the communities we work with.
We are committed to developing, operating and closing our mining properties in a sustainable manner. Our Sustainability Excellence Management System (SEMS) requires all sites to document closure plans with specific requirements for both environmental and social activities.
Closure planning begins at the earliest phases of a project and involves bringing together various internal and external stakeholders for their views, concerns, aspirations and knowledge. In the early stages of project development and operations, we meet with stakeholders and collect their closure and post-closure goals and views. We conduct risk assessments to maximize the benefits of closure and apply multidisciplinary expertise to develop an effective mine closure plan.
Closed sites should be rendered as environmentally productive as possible. While it is not possible to restore a site to its original state prior to mining, it is possible to establish a healthy, thriving ecosystem with productive land use after reclamation is completed.
Policies and Guidance
Our mine closure strategy is guided by our SEMS, our Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental and Sustainability policies, and the International Council on Mining and Metals’ Planning for Integrated Mine Closure Guidelines. Our standards specify the requirements for responsible closure planning, cost estimating and financial assurance.
The Reclamation Operations Business Unit (ROBU) was created in 2015. A group of professionals manage all closed sites, working under the ROBU general manager, in addition to supporting operating mines in their closure planning. In 2015, the ROBU supported the development of a number of reclamation and closure-planning objectives, which were incorporated into the SEMS for use at all projects, mines and closed sites.