Laurence, DC 2006, 'Why Do Mines Close?', in AB Fourie & M Tibbett (eds), Proceedings of the First International Seminar on Mine Closure
, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 83-94, https://doi.org/10.36487/ACG_repo/605_1
This paper summarises the early results of a significant and on-going research project investigating the
causes and impacts of mine closures over the past 25 years. The closure of the 800 mines provides a wealth
of data, obtained from company and government records, interviews with key personnel and other sources.
The data includes all Australian States and Territories and all commodities, including metalliferous, coal and
industrial minerals. The majority of mine closures were in Western Australia (60%) followed by New South
Wales (20%) and Queensland (10%). The most commonly closed mine was a gold mine followed by coal,
nickel, base metals and minerals sands operations. Twenty five percent of the mines closed due to resource
exhaustion or depletion; 24% due to high costs, price drops, or declining grades; 8% due to open pit resource
depletion (but with underground reserves remaining) or underground reserves depleted (but plans to open cut
remainder) and 7% due to receivership or voluntary administration. Other significant causes included closure
of a downstream industry or loss of markets; adverse geological/geotechnical factors; flooding/inrush;
government/political decisions; safety/health or environmental issues or other reasons. The environmental,
social and economic impacts of these closures are also significant and include acid mine drainage and impact
on mine employees. The outcomes of the research will equip operators and regulators to better manage future
Laurence, D.C. (2001) Classification of Risk Factors Associated with Mine Closure, Mineral Resources Engineering,
Vol.10, No. 3, pp. 315-331.
Laurence, D.C. (2002) Optimising Mine Closure Outcomes for the Community – Lessons Learnt Minerals and Energy,
Raw Materials Group, Vol. 17 No.1, pp. 27-34.
Laurence, D.C. (2006) Optimisation of the Mine Closure Process, Journal of Cleaner Production, Volume 14, Issues 3-
4, pp. 285-298 Elsevier Science Ltd.
Neil, C., Tykkylainen M. and Bradbury, J. (eds) (1992) Coping with Closure: An International Comparison of Mine
Town Experiences, Routledge, London, ISBN 0 415 06651 4.
Why Do Mines Close? D.C. Laurence
94 Mine Closure 2006, Perth, Australia