Authors: Regjiibuu, E; Munkhtur, A; Radnaabazar, A

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Regjiibuu, E, Munkhtur, A & Radnaabazar, A 2023, 'Leading the way: An innovative community engagement approach for mine closure planning in Mongolia', 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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Mongolia's vast mineral resources have made mining a significant contribution to its economy. The country's deeply rooted nomadic lifestyle and cultural heritage connected to the natural environment have led to public opposition against mining due to its negative effects on the environment and local communities. To address these concerns, the Mongolian government has implemented a range of regulations to promote community notification and engagement into mine development applications and planning. The "Mongolia: Enhancing Resource Management through Institutional Transformation" (MERIT) is a public sector strengthening project funded by the Government of Canada. A Mine Closure Plan pilot was implemented with Erdenes Silver Resource LLC, a state-owned mining company, and the Mongolian Government at the Salkhit silver mine located in the Gobi desert steppe region. This pilot project marked an important milestone in Mongolia's efforts toward responsible resource management. It resulted in the first Mine Closure Plan to be developed in accordance with the country's 2019 mine closure regulation and incorporates international best practices and innovative approaches. By setting a standard for mine closure planning, this pilot provided a benchmark for other mining entities seeking to enhance their closure planning processes. Through a coordinated multistakeholder engagement approach, the project ensured that all relevant stakeholders, including affected communities, were fully informed and actively involved in the mine closure planning process. The primary goal of the project was to foster a comprehensive understanding and knowledge of innovative mine closure strategies, promoting collaboration and shared insights among stakeholders. By attaining this objective, the project aimed to empower stakeholders with the essential knowledge and insights required to address mine closure challenges effectively and sustainably, thus ensuring a positive impact on both the environment and the communities for future endeavors. A series of community-targeted, information-sharing, and educational activities were conducted to engage with different community groups, including herders, women, youth, and vulnerable members. The processes employed were gender-inclusive and transparent, allowing for the input of community members on how mine closure may impact their livelihoods, gender relations, and the roles of women in the community. This approach promoted equity and helped to avoid any negative impacts on their traditional lifestyle. This paper explains how the pilot successfully demonstrated best-practice through a model of community consultations and engagement in the mining sector in Mongolia. By actively involving stakeholders and directly impacted communities in the planning process, the pilot aimed to foster community capacity building and to empower communities to take a more proactive role in the mine closure process. This approach recognizes that mine closure can have significant impacts on communities and that these impacts must be addressed through open and transparent communication with stakeholders. The lessons learned from this pilot might be beneficial for both government and industry that face similar challenges in closure planning.

Keywords: stakeholder engagement, community education and capacity building, socio-economic transition, and gender equality

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