Authors: Butler, H; Bentel, GM


Cite As:
Butler, H & Bentel, GM 2011, 'Mine relinquishment – processes and learnings', in AB Fourie, M Tibbett & A Beersing (eds), Mine Closure 2011: Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Mine Closure, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 3-11,

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Mine relinquishment in general terms is the completion of the reclamation activities, meeting agreed closure objectives and return of the site to the landowner. Relinquishment planning and completion is a concept that governments and communities speak to as an expectation and that the mining industry aims to achieve. But there are very few standards or guidelines that provide the how to, and only a precious few mine sites have attained all or even partial release. As regulatory requirements for mine reclamation activities and reporting evolve in detail and scope, and bonding becomes the norm, reaching the end point remains elusive for many sites. Instead the current end point for most is care and maintenance. Is relinquishment possible, or practicable, or is it becoming less probable? This paper looks at the issues that affect the likelihood of relinquishment. Case studies are discussed, with learnings that help lead the way, and those that highlight the road blocks. Many mine operators have the best intentions in protecting the environment, and returning reclaimed mine sites to the land owner in a safe and sustainable condition for future post-mining use. It makes good business sense for the future of mining. It is time to move the conversation beyond reclamation planning and forward to the possibility of relinquishing mine sites through a process that ensures sustainability of mining and the confidence of the land owner.

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