Objectives and Initiatives
Since its inception, the Reclamation and Closure group has been focused on improving our institutional knowledge of our 35 closed sites. With a better knowledge of their unique geologies, histories, environmental condition and regulatory requirements, we will be better positioned to identify and manage the potential risks at each mine site.
On an annual basis, all operating and closed sites review – and revise as required – their closure assumptions, regarding the physical work and costs that would be required to complete closure. This ensures that our closure objectives are current and that our closure planning accounts for any new or revised conditions at the operation, and any regulatory changes that may affect closure plans or require changes to the closure design.
Reclamation and closure planning begins at the initial stages of a site’s planning and development process, and continues throughout the mine’s lifecycle. We encourage stakeholder consultation as early as possible, especially where the infrastructure that we build will be retained for community use, or where the land use involves the community’s input, and where the post-mining land use will differ from the way the land was used before mine development begins.
Closure planning begins at the earliest phases of a project’s lifecycle and evolves as the project matures. Effective closure planning:
- Includes active stakeholder participation
- Improves project transparency
- Identifies risks earlier so they can be mitigated
- Reduces long-term liabilities, and moves the project toward passive care and custodial transfer
- Recognizes and plans for potential post-closure land uses and opportunities
Completion of closure at El Sauzal Mine
In 2016, we successfully completed the closure of our El Sauzal mine in Mexico. Progressive reclamation had been underway for years. El Sauzal was the first mine in the world to be decommissioned, tested and certified as a ‘non-cyanide’ facility under the International Cyanide Management Code. Since production ended, the area was re-contoured and revegetated, creating a stable, environmentally safe and natural-looking landscape that will be useful in perpetuity. This site will be monitored and maintained as the vegetation matures and the environment restores an equilibrium to the site. Once this balance is attained, the land will continue to be utilized by the landowners.
The El Sauzal mountain range sees a significant amount of rain, thus controlling water runoff and limiting erosion damage was a concern. In 2016, we built six and a half kilometres of ditching to control water flow and divert valley flows from the mountains around the site, and minimize erosion. We will spend the next four years monitoring the reclaimed site and performing maintenance as required.
Preparation for Closure of the Marlin Mine
Mining at the Marlin mine in Guatemala will end by mid-2017. Progressive reclamation has been performed at the site since the start of operations in 2005. The Marlin pit backfill started in 2012, with a mixture of dry tailings, cement and rock used as fill material. This is a best-in-class technique that results in a stable, environmentally benign landscape. In December 2015, backfilling of the main pit was completed. In 2016, the cover of the pit wall began, and it is planned to be completed by May 2017. The tailings dam will be completely filled by June 2017, which will allow a dry reclamation with a cover to be finished by the end of 2019.
In 2016, with the mine approaching its final stages, the closure plan was updated. Community activities included information sessions and the finalizing of social agreements. Employees were offered education, training and retraining opportunities to help diversify their skill-sets.
Remote Water and Dam Monitoring at Equity Silver Mine
Equity Silver is a mine in northern BC, Canada, which has been closed for over 25 years. We maintain a small team to operate the water treatment facilities and maintain the site year-round. This year, we completed a remote monitoring project utilizing fixed, solar powered and GPS monitoring technology that has provided continuous live monitoring coverage. Using remote sensors and cameras, the water levels and the three dams are constantly monitored, with updates sent automatically to the operating team.
At Equity Silver, we are also exploring ways to mitigate the acid rock drainage, which has been actively treated since the mine closed. This year, we applied an innovative technology that we hope will help us understand the nature of the flow paths through the rock stockpiles and potentially help us stop the acid drainage. In addition, we have begun to study opportunities to reduce the water cover on the tailings.
Completion of the Greening of the Hollinger Open Pit Perimeter Berm at Porcupine
The Hollinger mine is a legendary underground mine that is part of the Porcupine mine complex in Timmins, Ontario. In 2014, the mine was reopened as an open pit, in part, to reduce long-term liabilities. A key component of getting the project off the ground began with the construction of a perimeter berm to control noise and dust. In 2016, we completed the greening of the perimeter berm surrounding the open pit mine. This, in addition to continuing the development of a subsequent land use plan with the City of Timmins, is the first stage in turning the property into a sustainable, usable green space in the city centre, immediately adjacent to downtown Timmins.