Authors: Clerc, C; Sharma, V; Pagliero, L

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Clerc, C, Sharma, V & Pagliero, L 2023, 'Water and energy integration towards post-mine transition ', in B Abbasi, J Parshley, A Fourie & M Tibbett (eds), Mine Closure 2023: Proceedings of the 16th International Conference on Mine Closure, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth,

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Mining is resource-intensive and often located in remote and climate-fragile areas with limited resources, requiring complementary developments in water treatment and power generation services to sustain its activities (Owen & Kemp, 2018). Communities that surround mine sites usually rely on the mining company for their water and energy supply. Since many jurisdictions require mining companies to close all service infrastructure as part of closure planning, mine closure raises concerns over the future sustainability of this mining-dependent infrastructure. Mine closure, therefore, can disrupt critical access to water and energy for local communities and impact their post-mining transition plans and development opportunities (Christmann, 2017; Vivoda et al., 2019). Interest in exploring the socio-economic impacts of mine closure has been increasing worldwide. Yet, research that considers how mine closure intersects with local needs to align sustainable planning is sparse (Bainton & Holcombe, 2018). Understanding the nature of water and energy challenges induced by mine closure in remote and climate-vulnerable regions will help guide communities to successfully transition post-mining (Carvalho, 2017). As such, an integrated approach to water and energy access and security is needed. Integrated planning of water and energy access allows the optimal use of resources, enabling a sustainable supply post-mining. Silo-ed interventions that promise a clean and affordable supply of energy without considering its interface with, and role in, sustainable water management, have been ineffective in achieving sustained benefits over the long term (United Nations et al., 2014). An integrated approach not only helps balance resource quality and quantity for productive livelihoods but, in doing so, optimises the cost-efficiency of solutions while minimising associated social and environmental impacts (De Oliveira et al., 2022). This paper presents an exploratory study of what an integrated multi-dimensional analysis for water and energy access post-mine may look like. The novelty of our approach is its grounding in inter-disciplinary literature encompassing diverse disciplines: mining and mine closure, development challenges in remote contexts, climate change adaptation, and integrated energy and water regional-scale planning. Water and energy are critical resources to sustain livelihoods and support economic growth. In mine closure contexts, ongoing water and energy supply are among the main socio-economic challenges. As water and energy dynamics are interrelated, a multi-dimensional analysis of challenges towards water and energy access post-closure will allow identifying optimal supply solutions aligned with local development plans post-mine. Integrated water-energy systems enable optimal, cost-effective, and efficient solutions while protecting the ecosystem, maintaining its capacity to sustain water and energy supply in the long-term. Effective integration requires a better understanding of the local context, including stakeholders’ needs and capabilities, in order to design optimal solutions supported by coordinated management. Research on water and energy integration has focused attention on optimising water and energy consumption to advance cost-effective systems. Similarly, initiatives for water and energy supply post-mine have mostly pursued isolated solutions for infrastructure reuse without addressing management requirements or local plans. Further research around integrated water-energy solutions with a special focus on mine closure planning will encourage the analysis of optimal alternatives and supporting regulations towards a sustainable socio-economic transition post-mine.

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