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 an awareness of the need to plan for the social and environmental changes that will occur. Companies understand that closure planning should begin 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 are typically very technical in nature, and can evolve over many years or decades. 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.
A significant trend that has special application for closed mines is the application of remote sensors and data-collection technologies. These can be used to mitigate risks by improving the frequency and accuracy of monitoring closed mines in remote locations.
Why Is This Important to Our Stakeholders?
Stakeholders are concerned about potential environmental and health effects related to closed mine sites. These issues generally arise from sites that have been poorly managed. The closure of any mine can cause significant change to the social norms established in a community. These changes are best communicated, understood and mitigated when the communities are involved in the closure-planning process from the outset. A mutual understanding and multi-stakeholder involvement in closure planning can lead to post-closure opportunities that are meaningful and relevant for a community.
Why Is This Important to Us?
We believe mine closure is critical for the sustainability of our legacy and of the communities surrounding them. For this reason, we created a new business unit that focuses solely on our approach to closure. For Goldcorp, improving our mine rehabilitation and closure practices is important for:
- Enhancing our social licence – By inviting public and regulatory scrutiny of our closure planning and practices, we have the opportunity to earn and increase stakeholder support throughout the mine lifecycle.
- 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 engineering, planning and reclamation activities while the mine is in operation will result in better management of environmental rehabilitation, and support the establishment of a sustainable landform which can be utilized to its fullest extent by local communities.
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 their closure plans and specific requirements for environmental and social activities.
Closure planning begins at the earliest phases of a project. It involves bringing together various internal and external stakeholders to share 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.
While it is not possible to restore a site to its original pre-mining state, it is possible to reclaim a site and establish a healthy, thriving ecosystem that can support productive land use.
In 2015, the Reclamation and Closure Group was established. Headed by the Vice President of Reclamation and Closure, the team is responsible for managing our closed sites and supporting operating mines in their closure planning. Since its inception, the unit has assisted in a number of reclamation projects and in improving planning, reporting and Asset Retirement Obligation activities. The group’s objectives are incorporated in the SEMS and apply to all projects, mines and closed sites.