First mine closure conference launched

THE widespread challenges of closing mines in an environmentally and socially acceptable way will be addressed by the international mining community at the First International Seminar on Mine Closure planned for Perth, Western Australia in September 2006.

Staff Reporter

Hosted by the Australian Centre for Geomechanics, in collaboration with the Centre for Land Rehabilitation (UWA) this is the first time that a range of targetted mine closure issues will be explored in an international forum.


One of the greatest challenges facing the global mining industry is the issue of economic and socially acceptable closure of mine sites. The increasing attention being paid by the media to the legacy of abandoned mine sites has focussed public interest on mine closure issues.


In response, legislators and regulators are implementing various financial instruments to provide surety that closure will be affordable. These are often underpinned by various rehabilitation criteria that must be met to avoid financial penalties.


An example is the environmental performance bond requirement in Western Australia, which is imposed to ensure that the state is not exposed to unacceptable costs should mine operators fail to meet the rehabilitation requirements of their lease. For tailings storage facilities, for example, the amount of the bond is $12,000 per hectare.


Planning for land rehabilitation and site closure from an early stage of a mining operation is an important way of decreasing the cost of the process. Clearly defined, unambiguous and appropriate criteria for what constitutes acceptable closure is also critical.


Approval for future mining projects will more likely be obtained if the industry demonstrates it is able to close existing sites in a responsible, environmentally and socially acceptable manner.


The organisers hope this event will initiate an annual vehicle for legislators, mine owners and operators, consultants, service providers and researchers from throughout the world to exchange views on how best to ensure that future closure of mine sites is achieved at minimum cost, whilst ensuring that future environmental and social impacts are minimised.


The technical program will include comprehensive and highly relevant technical papers emphasising innovations and application of state-of-the-art technologies and closure strategies from around the world.


The seminar themes include: regulatory expectations and legal requirements, financing closure, case studies on mines that have already been relinquished, rehabilitation and success criteria, planning for closure, managing acid drainage, addressing community concerns and social impacts, landform evolution, primary successions and ecosystem developments, and pedogensis on covers and wastes.


More than 50 papers from leading local and international mine closure practitioners and strategists are expected to be presented at this unique, world-first mining event.


For more information, please contact Josephine Ruddle at