Bjelkevik, AG & Bohlin, TE 2021, 'Mine closure – do we miss the opportunities?', in AB Fourie, M Tibbett & A Sharkuu (eds), Mine Closure 2021: Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Mine Closure
, QMC Group, Ulaanbaatar, https://doi.org/10.36487/ACG_repo/2152_89
Mining operations have a big environmental impact wherever they are located. Unsuccessful operation and/ or inadequate planning for closure has in several cases increased the impact, causing costly environmental liabilities without finance. The consequence is, generalized, difficulties to get permits, in some countries more or less impossible. Metals and minerals are, however, necessary for our society and even more so with the “green transformation”, i.e. the change from fossil fuels to sustainable sources of energy (windmills, solar power, electrical cars etc. etc.).
Mining has developed over centuries. With time, extraction processes have been refined resulting in a (still) increasing amount of waste materials, such as waste rock and tailings. The mining industry is the industry, globally, moving the largest volumes of materials. These materials are generalized a problem, a waste.
Traditionally, mining operations are run by engineers using logic, “straight lines”, effective processes in order to produce good quality products. The waste materials produced have been, and still are, seen as a waste product, i.e. a problem to be solved as efficiently as possible at the lowest cost. Sometimes at a too low cost, which in the worst case may result in incidents or failures of tailings management facilities or inappropriate closure, none of them acceptable.
This paper will discuss, from the authors point of view, possible ways of how mining operations may change into a positive element within our society. This require a new mindset and a different strategy within the industry. The authors believe this change could be to “use” mining, i.e. the materials produced, to create a value. By this many things can probably be achieved like; improved reputation, society/ community engagement, long term commitment and safer long-term solutions. The authors believe that these are key ingredients to obtain acceptance for the industry and more constructive permitting processes
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, June 2021