Edwards, J, Bester, V & Maritz, A 2022, 'A framework for developing social mine closure criteria', 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. 813-828, https://doi.org/10.36487/ACG_repo/2215_59
Mine closure criteria are a prerequisite for successful and sustainable closure of mine sites. However, the social mine closure criteria are not well developed across the world. While many International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) members and many other non-ICMM members recognise the benefits of closure governance, a corporate culture or mindset shift within organisations is required to integrate closure. Using the South African mining industry as a reference, an analysis of publicly available mine closure plans has shown that mine closure criteria mainly relate to environmental rehabilitation or mine reclamation. This approach does not fully address all relevant targets and global indicators of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which South Africa adopted in 2015.
South Africa has a long history of mining, which has contributed significantly to the country's economic development. At the same time, all mines contribute to the socio-economic development of mine-associated communities and labour-sending areas, as required by local legislation. They also undertake broad-based stakeholder engagement and address downscaling or retrenchment impacts in compliance with national legislation. However, social mine closure criteria and mechanisms for achieving an effective social transition towards mine closure are not legally required and are underdeveloped.
Major and mid-tier mining companies in South Africa undertake voluntary sustainable reporting. By effectively visioning their own long-term sustainability goals, such as the provisioning of economic and social development opportunities to host communities, mines have the potential to direct sustainable development policies, plans and programs within their area of influence. Developing suitable and sustainable social mine closure criteria should also ensure that this positive alignment to the SDGs set by the United Nations for 2030 continues beyond mine closure. In this context, the paper proposes a framework for developing social mine closure criteria and mechanisms. The social mine closure criteria have the potential to supplement closure plans and aim to foster sustainable social transitioning beyond mine closure.
Keywords: mine closure, mine closure criteria, social transitioning, sustainable development, social impact, social performance
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