2.6 Decommissioning and closure

Closure planning can be challenging for mine managers and community leaders, as it heralds the cessation of operations and people generally prefer to concentrate on current productivity and extending the term of prosperity. Advanced closure planning is nonetheless prudent, as even mines with great projected longevity may be forced to close unexpectedly for various reasons, causing economic dislocation to workers, local communities and governments. Having plans in place for closure can help to minimise the shock of a sudden closure and enable sustainable community development planning

Many projects develop conceptual closure plans as part of their feasibility and planning stage and update them routinely, at least every five years. Embracing closure planning as a healthy part of planning for long-term community sustainability afterwards can be a good foundation for strong company-community relations. Footnote 4 Ideally, closure planning will include the participation of community members, local and regional government and development partners and will be regularly updated as part of the standard mine-planning schedule.

Decommissioning and closure community engagement and development: example activities

Community relations staff should be allocated to closure planning, perhaps part time at the beginning of an operation and full time as closure approaches, perhaps with additional staff Engage expert advice, as needed, from someone with closure planning experience.

Engage local communities and other stakeholders in planning for post-project sustainability and envisioning the future use of mine site facilities. As closure approaches, say five years before, establish a closure planning committee with community input.

Conduct a closure social impact assessment to determine how closure will affect local communities and the options for the future use of project land and facilities. Ensure that the assessment takes into account differential impacts on women, the young, the old, the disabled and any ethnic or religious minorities in the community. This assessment should be done at a conceptual level at project commencement and then be regularly updated and revisited. It should become increasingly detailed as closure comes closer.

Ensure that stakeholders understand that discussions about closure planning do not imply that closure is imminent but are plans for the long-term sustainability of community programs. Develop impact management plans that cater for all sectors of the community.

Include changes to closure plans in regular annual reporting to management, especially if the changes are influenced by community input.


Footnote 4
Useful reference documents on closure planning are ICMM, Planning for integrated mine closure: Toolkit 2008, http://www.icmm.com/document/310; and the Mine closure handbook in this series.

Return to footnote 4 referrer

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