Authors: Poscente, M; Choijinzav, T; Chultemgombo, B

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Poscente, M, Choijinzav, T & Chultemgombo, B 2022, 'Mine closure plan for the Salkhit silver mine in Mongolia', in AB Fourie, M Tibbett & G Boggs (eds), Mine Closure 2022: Proceedings of the 15th International Conference on Mine Closure, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 209-224,

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Mongolia is strengthening its governance of the mining and environmental sectors through updating and improvements to laws and regulations. A specific objective is to improve mine closure planning – by standardising planning processes used in Mongolia and improving confidence that land disturbed by mining will have value to local communities after mine closure. Mine closure planning is a new concept for Mongolia, a developing nation, classed by the World Bank as a lower middle-income country. A barrier to mine closure planning is a general lack of capacity within the domestic mining industry. The top three capacity issues are improving skills and knowledge of professionals involved in mine closure planning, companies providing adequate resources to meet the closure planning expectations and enhancing the capacity of stakeholders, especially local citizens, so they can meaningfully participate when engagement occurs. This is especially so for small- and medium-sized mining companies and national consulting firms. Challenges for both government and industry include confusion in understanding laws, lack of experience planning and managing multi-stakeholder engagement processes and meeting stakeholder expectations for socio-economic transition upon the closure of a mine. Capacity building is a key desired outcome of the project, to enable future mine closure planning to be conducted primarily through resources available within Mongolia. The ‘Mongolia: Enhancing Resource Management through Institutional Transformation’ (MERIT) project is funded by Global Affairs Canada. MERIT partnered with the Ministry of Mining and Heavy Industry (MMHI), the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) and Erdenes Silver Resources LLC (ESR) to develop a mine closure plan for the ESR Salkhit mine. The mine has a 5–10 year life expectancy. The MMHI desires to promote international best practice, sensibly aligned to the Mongolian context, into closure planning. The closure plan will be the first to be created and submitted for approval under the regulation ‘Regarding the Approval of the Regulation on Rehabilitation and Closure of Mines and Concentration Plants (2019)’ (MMHI & MET 2019) and will set a standard for future mine closure planning in Mongolia. This paper provides the results of stage 1 of a two-stage project. Stage 1 included a regulatory review, site assessment report, development of mine closure goals and objectives, and a risk assessment. Stage 2 will involve forming a multi-disciplinary team to write the ESR Salkhit mine closure plan. The methodology used to conduct the stage 1 activities, including approaches for capacity building, gender equality and stakeholder engagement is presented. Key results of the project are described, in the context of both government and company experiences of the processes used and the impact the results will have on influencing changes to laws and mining operations. Conclusions will highlight the lessons learned and key areas for improvement.

Keywords: mine closure, reclamation, rehabilitation, planning, gender equality, capacity building, reclamation goals and objectives, risk assessment, stakeholder engagement

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