Authors: Finucane, SJ


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Finucane, SJ 2008, 'Thinking About the End Before You Start — Integrating Mine Closure Planning into Feasibility Studies and Environmental and Social Impact Assessment', in AB Fourie, M Tibbett, I Weiersbye & P Dye (eds), Mine Closure 2008: Proceedings of the Third International Seminar on Mine Closure, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 171-182,

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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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