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Enhancements in mine closure planning in Western Australia and possible applications for Africa

Morrison-Saunders, A., Gorey, P., Doepel, D., Mtegha, H. and McHenry, M.P. (2014) Enhancements in mine closure planning in Western Australia and possible applications for Africa. In: Mine Closure 2014: 9th International Conference on Mine Closures, 1 - 3 October, Johannesburg, South Africa

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It is now well established, for example by the International Council of Mining and Metals, that mine closure planning should be considered from the outset of mining planning and approval, and that this should involve relevant stakeholders to agree upon post-mining land-uses. This has been precipitated by situations where governments have been left with clean up obligations following mine closure. Recent innovations in legislation and regulations for mine closure planning in Western Australia are being evaluated for potential adaptation and application to five African countries. Western Australia has a sophisticated mining sector with respect to regulation and regulator capacity, and the purpose of this research is to showcase the Western Australian approach, and invite discussion on possible applications elsewhere. Whilst our Australian Government funded research specifically targets South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Mozambique, Kenya, Tanzania, and Zambia, we are keen to explore implications for other countries where mine closure remains an abiding issue. A key observation from the cooperative governance approach employed in Western Australia between various agencies responsible for mining and environmental regulation and operators is central to the effectiveness of mine closure planning. Early consideration forces both the regulators and operators alike to justify their respective closure requirements; the details of which are reflected in approval conditions for the mining operation. This brings the mine planning phase to a head regarding the likely feasibility of planned closure and post-mining land-use activities. In this manner, the likelihood of legacy problems associated with unexpected abandonment or premature mine closure is minimised, relative to former practices where the mine planning process was essentially left unresolved. In short, the closure requirements become more realistic with this early, consultative and progressing comprehensive mine-closure planning framework in place, with potential scope for adaptive management and numerous creative options for positive post-mining legacies woven into the local socio-economic fabric.

Publication Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Engineering and Information Technology
School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Publisher: The University of the Witwatersrand
Copyright: © 2014 The University of the Witwatersrand
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