Authors: Poole, AA

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Poole, AA 2023, 'Good GIS functionality and practices in mine closure planning', 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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The use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) has emerged as a key tool in mine closure planning. GIS can be used to collate, analyse and display copious volumes of geospatial (mapping data and locations relative to the Earth’s surface) and non-spatial data linked to closure risks, designs, costs and performance. It is common that the use of GIS in mine site rehabilitation and closure planning does not utilise the full extent of available site historic and operational data and information that can be useful for rehabilitation and closure planning. Technical comprehension and training, and availability of user-friendly software (free and proprietary) for GIS were historical constraints to the use, improvement, review, and functionality of GIS on mine sites. With technological progress and the evolution of software, the use of GIS and the associated skillset required has become less onerous. This presents an opportunity to improve the functionality and practices around GIS use in mine rehabilitation and closure planning. Companies, consultants, and contractors across the industry assign varying importance to GIS use with a move towards retaining enough information for processes and outcomes including closure cost estimation to be auditable and reproducible, and tracking strategies, changes, and decisions along the mine closure planning pathway. GIS can be used to increase confidence levels in mine closure planning, track risk and performance, identify areas of concern, and track management of closure activities and execution e.g., information used in mine closure technical studies can be assessed for representativeness based on spatial coverage. Mine closure planning GIS can be used alongside GIS-linked technology for mining operations including designating appropriate locations for dozer rehabilitation tasks, delineating drone imagery capture locations to support monitoring, and determining locations for automated closure water quality monitoring for performance compared to criteria. This paper pinpoints some advantageous uses of GIS in mine closure planning functionality and practices as illustrated via recent case studies and provides suggestions for improving the benefits of GIS use. Improving GIS use in closure planning allows for more detailed records of mine rehabilitation and closure which can be invaluable in combating industry challenges such as staff turnover, moving goalposts of regulator and stakeholder expectations, confidence in adequate closure cost estimates and strategy decisions, and other key mine closure risks. Enlisting GIS as a key tool in mine closure supports developing technically defensible closure designs, cost estimates, and monitoring programs for successful closure planning, execution, and relinquishment.

Keywords: geographic information systems, GIS, closure planning, closure costing, rehabilitation tracking

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