Mine Closure

Objectives and Initiatives

All our operations have closure plans in place, which are reviewed annually.

We begin reclamation and closure planning at the initial stages of a site’s planning and development process, and continue throughout the mine’s life cycle. We encourage stakeholder consultation as early as possible, especially where infrastructure will be retained for community use, where the post-mining land use involves community input, and where the post-mining land use differs from the pre-existing land use.

One of our main objectives is to prepare and maintain a formal life-of-mine Reclamation and Closure Plan at each site, including advanced exploration and construction projects. The plan must:

  • Explicitly document the terms of reference for reclamation and closure activities, including regulatory standards, post-mining land use plans, community engagement plans, community development initiatives and local partnership agreements.
  • Specifically address chemical and physical stability of the site.
  • Include plans for progressive remediation.
  • Provide reasonable, accurate financial assurance of closure planning, with annual updates. Financial assurance is an important aspect of our social licence to operate.

Effective closure planning and closure execution – with stakeholder consultation – are key to successful mine closure. We are committed to continually improving our closure processes and to returning mined land to its next phase of productive use.

Reclamation Success at Balmer Lake

When we acquired Red Lake Gold Mines in the 1990s, we inherited a history of environmental damage from historical mining. Neighbouring Balmer Lake lies adjacent to the mine’s tailings management area, and for many decades, mining effluents had ended up in its water, eliminating all aquatic life.

Dave Gelderland, Red Lake’s Process and Tailings Manager, has been with Goldcorp since the 1990s. He was, and is, a member of the team that worked to restore the lake. He says, “The initial environmental studies of Balmer Lake prior to reclamation efforts revealed a barren body of water devoid of life.” Our team moved quickly with water treatment, monitoring and rehabilitation work. By 1996, small fish species were naturally re-colonizing. By 2000, the larger white sucker had returned, and walleye was introduced. Gelderland says, “We now have self-sustaining populations of walleye and northern pike in Balmer Lake, something many would have not thought possible back in the 1980s. It truly is a success story, worth the many years of work that have gone into the project and something that everyone at Red Lake Gold Mines and Goldcorp should be proud of.” Water quality in Balmer Lake is now high enough that it is allowed to flow naturally into the surrounding watershed.

Award-winning Reclamation in Porcupine

The Porcupine mine’s property includes the site of the historic Coniaurum gold mine, which operated from 1913 until 1961, when the tailings dams breached in a storm, resulting in a discharge. Reclamation of the Coniaurum lands has been a long-term project. Our teams have succeeded in stabilizing the site and preventing suspended solids from the old tailings area from entering Porcupine River. We have used biosolids as a cover and planted wild grasses to promote a self-sustaining environment. As other natural grasses, shrubs and trees returned, so has wildlife, including several black bears. The honeybees that we introduced for pollination have spawned new bee colonies and a local honey industry. Since 2008, we have been running educational tours on the reclaimed site and working with the local Aboriginal community on the application of traditional knowledge and practices to modern rehabilitation techniques.

Our success was recognized through receiving the Tom Peters Memorial Mine Reclamation Award in 2011. This award is sponsored by the Ontario Mining Association, the Canadian Land Reclamation Association and the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, with the financial support of Vale SA.