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This paper looks into how two types of communities currently deal with the impacts, present and foreseen, of
the anticipated closure of a mine. One is the huge community of mine workers and their families whose
existence has been intimately tied to the mine’s continuous operation. The other is a small agricultural
settlement which is now abandoned and dissolved as its inhabitants found their economic activity to be no
longer viable. The distinction between the two communities underscores the need to qualify the form and
extent of relationships that a mining company has with its impact communities in designing and planning for
closure. The forces shaping the approach, design and implementation of mine closure strategies are
international in dimension. International cooperative efforts exist to address legacy issues, and are definitely
an encouraging development towards finding solutions to interlocking social and environmental problems
associated with mine closure. However, the locality-specific concerns must not lose primacy. The paper
argues that mine closure planning, while requiring a comprehensive approach, should go beyond being a
purely engineering-managerial project guided solely by risk assessment toolkits aimed at rehabilitating
landforms into their ecologically stable state. While strategies to address problems may be well-thought out,
they can prove ineffective and remain meaningless if specific concerns of people and communities, embedded
within defined socio-political and economic milieus, are inadequately understood. The paper also
demonstrates that the two communities, while different in size and other characteristics, share the complexity
of social and economic displacement associated with the loss of livelihood or income sources. Thus, schemes
to implement mine closure necessarily entail the systematic and shared efforts of multiple parties. The paper
concludes that mine closure concerns should be recognised as governance issues and appropriate actions
require the leadership and commitment of the national government and its relevant instrumentalities.
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