Our vision is to make mine closure a smooth transition, with careful management of the environmental and socio-economic challenges as the operation moves through reclamation, monitoring, passive care and eventual custodial to the government or surrounding communities. Our goal is to practise comprehensive land reclamation to ensure that the local ecosystem is healthy, thriving and supportive of meaningful use for nearby communities.
33 closed sites
are in various states of passive or active care and maintenance in Canada, the US, Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras.
100% of our properties
have updated closure cost estimates.
was invested in progressive or closure reclamation activities in 2017.
Marlin mine finished operations on May 31, 2017 and completed decommissioning activities associated with the Marlin cyanide facilities on September 22, 2017. On Dec 21, 2017, the International Cyanide Management Institute (ICMI) issued a press release announcing Goldcorp’s Marlin mine was fully decommissioned under International Cyanide Management Code and no longer subject to the Code.
Backfill of the Marlin pit was 100% completed and the cover placement on the Marlin Tailings Storage Facility commenced.
The Federal Environmental Protection Agency (PROFEPA) conducted the site sign-off inspection at El Sauzal in Mexico in late 2017. El Sauzal will continue with a post-closure monitoring period.
Construction of the Broulan Reef tailings facility stabilization buttress was completed at our Porcupine Mine.
We continued to monitor all tailings facilities at our closed sites.
Talking Mine Closure with Chris Cormier, Vice President, Reclamation and Closure1
- Looking back on 2017, what were some of the key highlights and challenges from the perspective of mine closure and reclamation? What did you learn from these challenges? What are you looking forward to in 2018?
The key highlight from 2017 for the Reclamation and Closure Team was safely transitioning our Marlin mine from operations to closure. Marlin has not only been a significant contributor to Goldcorp over its life, it has also played an important role for the community: It provided social and economic benefits and contributed to the regional socio-economic health of Guatemala. For this reason, it was extremely important to us to close the mine in a socially and environmentally responsible way.
Through this process we have learned that proactive and transparent communications and plans, as well as the implementation of a successful closure, are critical to ensuring community understanding and acceptance. They allow for the successful execution of our closure plan.
Looking ahead, 2018 will allow the Reclamation and Closure department to mature within Goldcorp. We will be focusing on identifying opportunities to add value through innovative approaches to closure and social closure such as re-purposing or co-purposing the mining lands, while we continue to successfully integrate closure planning from exploration to operations.
- One of the projects for 2017 (reported in 2016) was to explore the development of sustainable green energy solutions for some of Goldcorp’s closed sites. Was it possible to do so?
I am glad to say we did have the opportunity to further our understanding of the green energy potential related to closure. It remains a viable solution for sites that require passive care long-term or at sites where we want to ensure that the sustainable benefits realized during operations can endure in a different form during the post-closure lifecycle. We are currently reviewing the lifecycle value of solar energy at a closed site to provide ongoing energy for monitoring services and potentially generate additional employment and social investment.
- Is the Reclamation and Closure Team involved in the development of new Goldcorp projects such as Coffee, Borden or Century?
Yes, we believe it is important to ensure that closure planning – including social closure – is included from the beginning of projects. As a result, the Reclamation and Closure team has been working with the Coffee, Borden and Century projects to ensure these aspects are included to fit each of their local context. Not only did we have the opportunity to review and provide input on the closure plans for each of the three projects, we were also able to provide additional information to stakeholders, to support the ongoing dialogue. We provided additional training for project teams to help each group understand the social and technical aspects of closure along with the opportunities to integrate and improve the process though our expertise along with that of industry in general.
A focused approach through a dedicated Reclamation and Closure team brings expertise and dedication to the process. This is critical to developing a plan which is supported by communities, technically sound and successful in the long-term. We also draw from learnings across the organization and industry which can help us realize new opportunities that will in turn improve the final result.
- What are the key challenges that Goldcorp faces with regards to completely closing and signing-off on closed properties?
Mine closure is a complex topic as it involves uncertain time frames, changing economic, environmental and social aspects, multiple stakeholders and diverse relationships. We take our commitment to our vision, Together, Creating Sustainable Value, seriously, and as such we do not take mine closure lightly. While we work to include closure plans as early as the design phase of our projects, or when we take operational control of a mine, there are still various factors that may present us with challenges.
Regulators are in a unique position. They are tasked with protecting the public interest, while at the same time supporting responsible resource development. Given this relationship, regulators understand the complexity of closed mine sites and their own obligation to the public, which requires them to perform ongoing due diligence, improve compliance limits and hold release requirements to the highest of standards.
This is in some ways parallel to our commitment to our stakeholders because it outlines our obligations to ensure that the risk at a closed site is reduced to acceptable levels and that any post-closure lands are cared for until they meet or exceed expected long-term performance objectives.
This complex set of relationships can result in longer monitoring timelines and ongoing dialogue to ensure that everyone understands the criteria required to attain a full release from a closed mine site – one that meets the needs of all involved. Transparency, communication and long-term commitments in relation to closed sites are critical to relinquishing any closed site and successfully leaving a positive legacy.
One of the main goals of the Reclamation and Closure team is to reach passive care at all of our sites post-mine reclamation. The other goal, is when and where possible, to work with local government and regulators to relinquish the land to the appropriate stakeholders.
- How does Climate Change affect Goldcorp’s closure design?
Climate change is a relatively new and complex conversation when it comes to closure. More importantly, it is highly variable and must be considered when designing any long-term closure. For example, we may have sites that are currently arid experience significant precipitation and, conversely, we may have wet sites that become more arid. Understanding the limitations of any closure design is crucial in planning for a long-term stable landform that can thrive in any new normal as a result of long-term climate change. We continue to work with First Nations, our consultants and industry experts to inform our plans as we continue to understand this complex design parameter. As this is a relatively new topic for closure planning, we are also working with other mining companies to better comprehend the potential effects of climate change on how we design for closure.
- How important is collaboration to Goldcorp with regards to reclamation and closure?
Closing a mine affects the local environment, people, and economy. For these reasons it is imperative that we constantly look for ways to design and operate mines that will make the transition to closure and reclamation smoother. We must also continuously look for innovative post-closure land uses that can match with any local community development goals. Collaboration with local communities is key as we pursue this.
Sharing our ideas, experiences and challenges with external organizations or internal functional groups is critically important to expanding our understanding of what successful closure looks like and sharing that knowledge with teams who can impact the end result. This type of collaboration supports the integration of closure planning into our business functions, resulting in better execution of both the technical and social closure in the field.
It is important to collaborate with our peers in the industry regarding challenges, best practices and innovation. Learning and sharing our collective experiences will allow us to improve our industry performance and social acceptance.
- Recently there has been a lot of attention on the social aspect of mine closures. Does Goldcorp include social aspects when closing mine sites?
Yes, absolutely. The social aspects of closing a mine site are key considerations for us. To ensure a successful transition from operations to closure, a company must ensure closure planning with the creation of a robust closure plan is part of the early stages of any project planning. Companies also need to have a deep understanding of the local context and to have built strong relationships with the local communities in order to understand how to best manage not only the transition but also all the activities leading up to it.
One recent example we’re quite proud of is the closure of our Marlin mine. Our goal at Marlin was to create a sustainable legacy for communities and families that would last long after we are gone. Knowing that 97% of our workforce were Guatemalan residents, we wanted to support our employees in developing a set of transferable skills that would be relevant after the mine’s closure.
To that end, we developed a Social Closure Plan in order to cover the social aspects that are affected by mine closure. We also developed a training program for employees. This program included courses in: Job Search, Job Interviews and How to Be an Entrepreneur. The goal of these courses was to prepare employees for the upcoming transition. Marlin mine also coordinated with the government the official “skills” certification which would help the employees find jobs to transition to after closure. All of these measures have proved successful as many employees are now working in other companies in the country and even internationally.
The Social Closure Plan also addressed the external effects on the communities around the mine. Funds were secured to develop projects to mitigate the negative economic impact. These projects developed local businesses that now sell their products in and out of the region.
Finally, the Social Closure Plan focused on achieving productive use of the Goldcorp land, it was decided that a Foundation will run the projects (which include a pig farm and agricultural projects) to generate funds that would facilitate the continuation of some of the social programs to which the mine contributed over its lifespan. These projects would also provide economic development in the regions including local jobs.
- What are some of the long-term goals for mine closure and reclamation at Goldcorp (i.e., five/ten years from now)?
One of our goals is to continue to integrate technical and social closure into everything we do, from project phase to closure phase. With this goal in mind, our Reclamation and Closure Team is dedicated to providing a focused approach to closure planning. This team is a relatively new addition to Goldcorp, having been created in 2015.
Another one of our goals will be to ensure that reclamation and closure planning are integrated not only into all of our existing operations, but into all of our new projects from the early stages of planning and development.
We will continue to use technology to monitor our closed sites, especially those that are remote and difficult to access. Being able to know what is going on at a closed site, even when nobody is there, will allow us to be proactive in predicting issues before they happen and preventing any major issues from occurring.
Having closed mine site properties that can generate enough income through post-mining sustainable land uses to cover any long-term monitoring or treatment costs would be ideal.
- Looking back over the past three years, since the group’s inception, how would you describe the journey Goldcorp has been on from a mine closure and reclamation perspective?
Reflecting on the past three years, Goldcorp has a seen an increased focus on closure throughout the organization. This includes two active closures (El Sauzal and Marlin) and 33 sites that are under various levels of care and maintenance.
Reclamation, closure planning and concurrent reclamation while mines are in operation has become a much more prominent focus. Each site has a much better handle on reclamation and closure cost estimates based on a standardized model utilizing this to inform better reclamation and closure decisions going forward.
There are many opportunities for us to improve our process: By better engagement with stakeholders throughout the Life of Mine; we can learn from experience gained at several of our recent reclamation sites, and we can look at new technology that has the ability to do our work more efficiently and innovatively.
- What is Goldcorp doing from a mine closure and reclamation perspective that will change the way mine closure and reclamation is conducted, perceived or approached in the future?
As a relatively new department in Goldcorp, we are at an earlier stage in our journey than some other departments may be. Nevertheless, in the short period of time our team has been operating, we have started using new technology wherever possible for the monitoring and ongoing maintenance of remote sites. We have also adopted technology to manage active sites more efficiently.
We will continue to focus on integrating our department into each aspect of the business to ensure we leave a positive legacy in the communities in which we operate. We will also provide reductions in operating costs and energy requirements as a result of smart and proactive closure and reclamation planning.