Authors: Finucane-Woodman, MKJ; Finucane, SJ

Open access courtesy of:


Cite As:
Finucane-Woodman, MKJ & Finucane, SJ 2019, 'Overcoming adverse stakeholder perception affecting tenement relinquishment', in AB Fourie & M Tibbett (eds), Mine Closure 2019: Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Mine Closure, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 1437-1450,

Download citation as:   ris   bibtex   endnote   text   Zotero

Success in relinquishing a mine site and its associated tenure, and transferring the site to the next landholder, is strongly influenced by the perception held by regulators and other stakeholders of residual environmental, social and other risks. Even after comprehensive closure planning and stakeholder engagement, there is sometimes reluctance by the next landholder to finalise custodial transfer of the site and accept responsibility for any residual risk. This can occur even when residual risks are apparently well defined and understood, and are expected to be manageable in a way that will achieve agreed outcomes. This is because the way in which stakeholders perceive, respond to and/or act on risk is influenced by a wide range of factors including control, choice, novelty, propinquity and trust. As a result of a study on current practices and future directions for mining tenure relinquishment in Western Australia conducted in 2017 and more recent research, four key sources of adverse stakeholder perception in relation to tenement relinquishment have been identified. Firstly, it was found that although there is extensive literature available to stakeholders on planning and implementing mine closure, there is little public guidance available on the relinquishment processes used in Western Australia. The absence of such information makes it difficult for stakeholders to independently validate information they are provided in relation to tenement relinquishment. Further, the lack of clearly defined procedures can create confusion about whether appropriate processes are being followed and therefore trigger concern about whether residual risks will be managed effectively. Overcoming this adverse perception requires development of better documented procedures for tenement relinquishment and socialisation of these procedures. Secondly, the 2017 study and subsequent research found that responsibility for determining whether relinquishment can occur currently sits with key regulators and that while the views of other stakeholders are considered, they can be overridden. Consequently, stakeholders can feel that they have little choice in relation to, or control over, the outcome. Overcoming this adverse perception requires clearer definition of key stakeholders and provision of stronger mechanisms for incorporating these into decision-making regarding tenement relinquishment. Thirdly, it was found that whether a stakeholder trusts (or distrusts) the data it has been provided in relation to residual risks and tenement relinquishment can strongly affect perception of the acceptability of these. Overcoming this adverse perception depends on the type of information provided, the methods used to collect the information and the way in which the information is communicated to stakeholders. Finally, it was found that even when residual environmental, social and other risks are well defined, tenement relinquishment could still face final hurdles if the next land user has little or no appetite to take responsibility for those risks. In these cases, stakeholder perception of whether residual risks are acceptable is strongly influenced by that party’s capacity to manage those risks effectively. Overcoming this perception can require significant capacity building in technical, financial and other disciplines.

Keywords: stakeholder perception, stakeholder engagement, mine site relinquishment, tenement relinquishment

Anglo American 2013, Mine Closure Toolbox, Johannesburg.
Anon., n.d., Ten Risk-perception Factors, Changing Minds, viewed 24 July 2019,
Australian and New Zealand Minerals and Energy Council & Minerals Council of Australia 2000, Strategic Framework for Mine Closure.
Auditor General 2011, Ensuring Compliance with Conditions on Mining, Auditor General of Western Australia, Perth.
Beecher, N, Harrison, E, Goldstein, N, McDaniel, M, Field, P & Susskind, L 2005, ‘Risk perception, risk communication and stakeholder involvement for biosolids management and research’, Journal of Environmental Quality, vol. 34, no. 1,
pp. 122–128.
Botham, N, Bower, G, Vercoe, J & Lerotholi, N 2013, ‘Mine closure liabilities and risk management – minimising the pitfalls in decommissioning policy’, The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy Mining Environment and Society Conference, The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, Johannesburg.
Bowie, L & Fulcher, J 2017, ‘Planning for post-mining land uses’, paper presented at the Planning Institute of Australia (Qld) Annual Conference, Bundaberg, 14 September 2017.
Cash, DW, Clark, WC, Alcock, F, Dickson, NM, Eckley, N, Guston, DH, Jager, J & Mitchell, RB 2003, ‘Knowledge systems for sustainable development’, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 100, iss. 14, pp. 8086–8091.
Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia 1999, Mine Closure Guideline for Minerals Operations in Western Australia, Perth.
Copeland, L 2018, ‘Developing a whole of government approach to mine site relinquishment in WA’, Proceedings of the 2018 Environmental Management Workshop, Goldfields Environmental Management Group, Kalgoorlie, pp. 729–740.
Department of Industry and Resources 2006, Guidelines for Mining Proposals in Western Australia, Perth.
Department of Minerals and Energy Western Australia 1998, Guidelines to Help You Get Environmental Approval for Mining Projects in Western Australia, Perth.
Department of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia 2001, Draft Criteria for Mine Closure within the Context of the Department of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia, Perth.
Department of Minerals and Petroleum & Environmental Protection Authority 2011, Guidelines for Preparing Mine Closure Plans.
Department of Minerals and Petroleum/Environmental Protection Authority 2015, Guidelines for Preparing Mine Closure Plans.
Denes-Raj, V & Epstein, S 1994, ‘Conflict between intuitive and rational processing: when people behave against their better judgement’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol. 66, no. 5, pp 819–829.
De Sousa, K 2015, Do you know how to relinquish a mine site in Western Australia? Part 1, Astron, East Perth, viewed 24 July 2019,
Environmental Protection Authority 2006, Guidance for the Assessment of Environmental Factors: Rehabilitation of Terrestrial Ecosystems, Perth.
Finucane-Woodman, M 2017, Mining Tenure Relinquishment in Western Australia, Current Practice and Future Directions, Murdoch University, Murdoch, viewed 24 July 2019,
Franks, DM, Davis, R, Bebbington, AJ, Ali, SH, Kemp, D & Scurrah, M 2014, ‘Conflict translates environmental and social risk into business costs’, PNAS Early Edition, vol. 111, no. 21,
International Council on Mining and Metals 2008, Planning for Integrated Mine Closure: Toolkit, London.
Lacy, H & Bennett, K 2016, ‘Updating the leading practice sustainable development (LPSD) Mine Closure Guide Australia 2015’, paper presented at the Goldfields Environmental Management Group Workshop, Kalgoorlie, 20 May 2016.
Lacy, H & Koontz, D 2002, Environment Australia, Best practice environmental management in mining – mine decommissioning, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra.
Lindbeck, K & Hannan, J 1998, Landform Design for Rehabilitation – a Module in Best Practice Environmental Management in Mining, Department of Environment, Canberra.
Mackenzie, S 2016, ‘Post closure funding initiatives to facilitate custodial transfer and relinquishment of mining tenure’, in AB Fourie & M Tibbett (eds), Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Mine Closure, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 419–422.
Minerals Council Australia 1998, Mine Rehabilitation Handbook, Kingston.
Mulder, I, de Poot, H, Verwijs, C, Janssen, R & Bijlsma, M 2006, ‘An information overload study: using design methods for understanding’, Proceedings of the 18th Australia Conference Computer-Human Interaction, Association for Computing Machinery, New York, pp. 245–252.
Owen, J & Kemp, D 2018, An Industry Discussion Paper – Mine Closure and Social Performance, Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining, Sustainable Minerals Institute, University of Queensland, Brisbane.
Ropeik, D 2002, Understanding Factors of Risk Perception, Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard, Cambridge, viewed 24 July 2019,
Slovic, P 2001, The Perception of Risk, Earthscan, London.
Slovic, P & Peters, E 2006, ‘Risk perception and affect’, Current Directions in Psychological Science, vol. 15, iss. 6,
pp. 641–649.
Solomon, F, Katz, E & Lovel, R 2008, ‘Social dimensions of mining: research, policy and practice challenges for the mineral industry in Australia’, Resources Policy, vol. 33, pp. 142–149.
van der Linden, S & Lewandowsky, S 2015, ‘How to combat distrust of science, the surprising power of the psychology of consensus’, Scientific American,
Wang, L, Awuah-Offei, K, Que, S & Yang, W 2016, ‘Eliciting drivers of community perceptions of mining projects through effective community engagement’, Sustainability, vol. 8, no. 7,
Ward, S 1995, Rehabilitation and Vegetation – a module in Best Practice Environmental Management in Mining, Environmental Protection Agency, Canberra.

© Copyright 2023, Australian Centre for Geomechanics (ACG), The University of Western Australia. All rights reserved.
View copyright/legal information
Please direct any queries or error reports to