Environmental and socially responsible mine closure: NSW mine closure requirements and leading practice internationally

Mascha Blommerde, PhD Candidate 

Supervisors: Dr Simit Raval, Dr Wendy Timms and Associate Professor David Laurence

Advisor: Corinne Unger


Leading practice in mine closure planning

When a mine site has depleted the commodities mined or the mine has to close for other reasons, a significant legacy at an environmental and social level can be left behind if closure planning has not been implemented properly (Post-Mining Alliance n.d.). Having a sustainable mine closure plan in place should benefit the local community and environment. Environmentally and socially responsible or sustainable mine closure perspectives include:
  • International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM): “All ICMM members are required to implement the Sustainable Development Framework. This includes integrating a set of 10 principles and six supporting position statements into corporate policy, as well as setting up transparent and accountable reporting practices” (ICMM n.d.).
  • International Institute for Environment and Development, in the Mining, Minerals and Sustainable Development Project (MMSD) report: Sustainable development should integrate “economic activity with environmental integrity, social concerns, and effective governance systems” (IIED 2002).
  • Minerals Council of Australia : “The idea of meeting the needs of this generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs has become a key concept in the drive to maintain and enhance industry's contribution to society” (MCA n.d.).
This PhD research on mine closure planning commenced in February 2014. The PhD research question is “How does NSW mine closure regulation and practice compare to other Australian States/Territories and leading practice internationally?” Research conducted to date has been on aspects of the history of mine closure, mine closure regulations in NSW and leading practice in Australia and internationally.
Top Figure: Phases of a mining project which need to be considered in evaluating mining sustainability (Aust Govt et al. 2013.)