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It is widely recognized that mine closure planning should be an integral part of overall mine planning.
Ideally, this process should commence in the earliest phases of feasibility assessments. Closure planning that
is tailored to the needs of the project, and is commensurate with the level of feasibility study or other
assessment being conducted at that time, can influence project decisions, trigger improvements in project
design and provide rigor to costings. In some instances, early consideration of closure issues and costs may
even prevent a company from proceeding with a project that would incur significant liabilities or would be
unsustainable. For many projects, a mine closure plan is prepared when required for the site’s
environmental and social impact assessment and permitting process. All too frequently, this is the first time
that closure requirements have been considered in the planning process.
Mine closure planning conducted during impact assessment tends to focus on the development of high-level
closure objectives and strategies, but provides little information on how these will be implemented, and
generally does not include a closure cost estimate. Consequently, there is little certainty about whether the
proposed closure plan can be implemented effectively, and the stated outcomes can be achieved. The
challenge for mine closure planning during feasibility studies and impact assessments is to provide sufficient
certainty for proponents, regulators, shareholders and other stakeholders at a stage in the project life that is
often characterized by degrees of uncertainty. There needs to be clear guidance on how closure objectives
can be achieved within the broader project framework so as to facilitate effective decision making at all
levels. However, inherent in closure planning should be sufficient flexibility and adaptive management to
address, for example, changes in project designs and stakeholder requirements, operational constraints and
other circumstances not evident during the planning process, technological advances and improvements in
industry best practice. This paper discusses key considerations and presents suggestions for integration of
mine closure planning into feasibility studies and environmental and social impact assessments.
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