Authors: Flores, IP; Smith, KW; Getahun, A; Pérez, IP

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Flores, IP, Smith, KW, Getahun, A & Pérez, IP 2008, 'Comprehensive Planning for Closure of Mining Activities at Early Stages and its Impacts on the Business Plan and Mine Development Operations', 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. 215-221,

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Experience in Chile has shown that closure is sometimes regarded as an activity which is not planned early in the life cycle of a mine. In contrast, while a similar situation existed historically in the United States, the currently promulgated state-specific regulatory requirements for financial surety forces mining companies to look at closure earlier in the life cycle assessment process. Thus, lack of mine closure planning is more probable in countries or states where the regulations on closure are vague or non-existent. This can result in a short-term analysis of closure, with often the bare minimum provisioned for, or allocated to, solely meeting permit requirements, and not on planning closure as an integral part of the project’s lifecycle embedded within the overall management of the business. Some multinational mining companies regard the closure stage as a continual process that starts at the beginning of the mine planning’s life. Consequently, as long as mining companies understand that the resources, efforts and costs associated with early planning are directly linked to ultimate cost savings, it will be possible to achieve successful closures with fewer surprises to shareholders. An example of how comprehensive planning early in the life of mine planning, maintained along the entire mine lifecycle can condition investment decisions on the business-side, is provided in this paper. Key actions to take into consideration, based on the description of key aspects of the planning, and how those actions can have positive impacts on the business, are proposed. An example of a smelter in Chile, where the key issues of closure planning are identified early within the lifecycle management, is given. By tracking these issues at each stage of the project lifecycle, understanding improves and information about the magnitude of potential issues and associated costs is obtained. It then becomes possible to weigh up the risk and magnitude of closure options, and consequently produce more accurate cost estimates with a decrease in the financial impacts on the overall business. The ultimate aim is to establish an example of how closure planning, early in the lifecycle of mining operations, based on both the knowledge and a comprehensive viewpoint of key aspects inherent in the closure process, is able to reduce the uncertainty regarding the dimension and economic impacts that could exist when the operations come to an end.

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