Authors: Harrison, FA; Kiejda, M

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Harrison, FA & Kiejda, M 2022, 'Realising rehabilitation of legacy mine areas as an opportunity under an environmental, social and governance framework', 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. 753-766,

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The most elementary goal of mine closure is to minimise the environmental impact of the operations and reduce future financial impact to the company’s shareholders. Many modern mines have detailed mine closure plans for current approved mine operations, gaining the support from the shareholders and, in turn, increasing the value of the company. In recent years, we have seen mines being decommissioned and rehabilitated to land uses from pre-mine natural states through to future energy hubs. An emerging issue pertaining to closure planning is the identification and management of legacy areas where mining or exploration activities have ceased but rehabilitation has not occurred. Given the age of these some of these unclosed sites, many openings have not been sealed, forgotten, or lost. These sites pose a risk to the public safety and reduce the value of the land for future sales. The current Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) standards require the disclosure of environmental and social impacts to the decommissioning and rehabilitation of mines. These environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards focus on the financial materiality of issues pertaining to mine closure. Banks and investors look to these standards to guide their investment decisions. Using four Australian case studies, we explore how an ESG report using the SASB Standards can be improved when a legacy area is rehabilitated or closed. This can lead to favourable results for the company when it comes to refinancing or divesting an asset due to more investor interest as the materiality of the legacy area is better defined. In addition, shifting legacy areas from areas of risk on a company’s portfolio to potential opportunities to drive better ESG performance has the potential to realise increased corporate financial performance and increased valuation by investors.

Keywords: legacy areas, NSW, ESG, SASB Standards, rehabilitation, decommissioning, sustainability, closure

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