Getty, R 2023, 'Closure IS change. Change takes time and needs support. It's a smouldering fuse, not a 'burning platform'', 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, https://doi.org/10.36487/ACG_repo/2315_006
Closure IS change. When a mine ramps down and ceases to operate, it is a change that happens whether we plan for it or not, to the company and workforce, the environment, and future land users. Unplanned change results in unforeseen outcomes that force a new direction. To leave a positive legacy for closure we need to plan for change, which takes time.
We need time to ask questions and gain knowledge, to understand what land capability is needed for the post-closure vision. We need time to identify and discuss options, design and co-design the legacy we want to leave, starting as early as possible. This relies on meaningful engagement with our partners in changewho are people that have differing views. Significant change can invoke grief, with different emotions at each stage needing time for adaptation.
Right from the start, we need to collaborate and integrate closure with the mine life plan with all disciplines and functions. This is not new. It was acknowledged in the late 1990s by the World Bank and in 2000 by the Mining, Minerals and Sustainable Development project and is still discussed now as one of the main challenges to closure. Integration is not easy. It needs culture, supporting processes, trust and based on shared language and goals.
A typical change management phrase uses a 'burning platform' to drive urgent change through fear or reaction to something unfavourable. But a burning platform for closure means we're too late. We've run out of time, we don't have options, and our legacy will be 'what's left' rather than our vision. Closure is the smouldering dynamite fuse, and if we don't plan and integrate closure early and throughout the entire mine lifecycle, we can be left with an expensive surprise.
At BHP, we recently updated our global standard for closure. BHP requirements for Closure and Legacy Management took eight months to develop. Our objective was to collaborate, support early integration, and emphasise the interconnectedness of closure. We embedded closure language in BHPs Master Glossary and defined time, including the Life of Asset' "… until BHP no longer holds liabilities."
This paper describes the process and key lessons learned along the way. What legacy do you want to leave?
Keywords: closure, integration, legacy, time, risk
Bainton N & Holcombe S 2018, 'A critical review of the social aspects of mine closure', Resources Policy, 59, pp468-478,
Brock, D 2021, 'ICMM guidance and resources for integrating closure into business decision making processes', in AB Fourie, M Tibbett & A Sharkuu (eds), Mine Closure 2021: Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Mine Closure, QMC Group, Ulaanbaatar,
Dowd P & Slight M, 2006, 'The Business Case for Effective Mine Closure', Proceedings of the First International Seminar on Mine Closure, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth,
Edwards, J & Maritz, A, 2019, ‘Social aspects of mine closure: the elephant in the room.’ In: Fourie, A., Tibbett, M. (Eds.), Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Mine Closure, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 305–316.
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 15th International Conference on Mine Closure, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 813-828,
Getty, R & Morrison-Saunders A, 2020, 'Evaluating the effectiveness of integrating the environmental impact assessment and mine closure planning processes', Environmental Impact Assessment Review, 82, 106366,
Government of Western Australia, 2020, 'Collies Just Transition Plan', viewed 30 May 2023,
Gupta, G, 2018, 'Why Burning Platforms Don't Work', viewed 30 May 2023,
Haymont, R, 2012, 'Critical analysis and mine closure: why do things still go wrong in a swirl of feasibility, regulation and planning?', in AB Fourie & M Tibbett (eds), Mine Closure 2012: Proceedings of the Seventh International Conference on Mine Closure, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 39-48,
Haymont, R, Clements, E & Lacy, HWB 2008, 'Closure Through a Process of Collaboration - Suggestions as to How Mining Companies and Contractors Can Work Together to Make Closure Processes Successful', in AB Fourie (ed.), Rock Dumps 2008: Proceedings of the First International Seminar on the Management of Rock Dumps, Stockpiles and Heap Leach Pads, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 251-255,
Holcombe, S., Elliott, V., Keeling, A., Berryman, M., Hall, R., Ngaamo, R., Beckett, C., Moon, W., Hudson, M., Kusabs, N. & Ross River Lands Office, 2022, ‘Indigenous Exchange Forum: Transitions in mine closure’. St Lucia: Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining, University of Queensland.
Krarup H J, 2019, 'Burning platforms (aka management by fear) – and the better alternative', viewed 30 May 2023,
Mackenzie, S & Lacy, HWB, Koontz, D, 2006, 'Benefits of Planned Versus Unplanned Mine Closure and Strategies for Both', in AB Fourie & M Tibbett (eds), Mine Closure 2006: Proceedings of the First International Seminar on Mine Closure, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 227-235,
McKinsey & Company 2022, 'The raw-materials challenge: How the metals and mining sector will be at the core of enabling the energy transition', viewed on 30 May 2023,
Morrison-Saunders, A, 2019, 'The action is where the social is! The ecosystem services concept and other ideas for enhancing stakeholder engagement in integrated mine closure planning', in AB Fourie & M Tibbett (eds), Mine Closure 2019: Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Mine Closure, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 5-18,
Owen, J & Kemp, D, 2014, ‘Free prior and informed consent, social complexity and the mining industry: Establishing a knowledge base', Resources Policy, 41, pp91-100,
Parshley, JV & MacCallum, CS, 2016, 'Attractive nuisances and wicked solutions', in AB Fourie & M Tibbett (eds), Mine Closure 2016: Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Mine Closure, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 229-240,
Reid, M, 2020, 'The Piper Alpha Disaster: A Personal Perspective with Transferrable Lessons on the Long-Term Moral Impact of Safety Failures', ACS Chem. Health Saf. 27, 2, 88–95
Sommerville, K and Ferguson, K. 2022, 'Let’s reimagine our legacy of mining', 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. 3-18,
Wall, W & Haslam McKenzie F, 2023, 'Time for an Outcome Evaluation? The Experience of Indigenous Communities with Mining Benefit Sharing Agreements’, International Development Policy | Revue internationale de politique de développement, URL: //journals.openedition.org/poldev/5365; DOI:
World Bank 2021, ‘For a Just Transition Away from Coal, People Must Be at the Centre', viewed 30 May 2023,