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Care and maintenance a loophole or lifeline? The policy and practice of mines in care and maintenance in Australia

Pepper, Mia (2020) Care and maintenance a loophole or lifeline? The policy and practice of mines in care and maintenance in Australia. Masters by Research thesis, Murdoch University.

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Mine sites that are closed temporarily are often referred to as being in ‘care and maintenance’ (C&M). Mines may go into C&M because of changes to commodity prices, unsafe work conditions, environmental issues or as a way of avoiding mine rehabilitation. Despite modern mine closure policy, changes in community and corporate expectations on mine closure and an ever-growing body of research on technical aspects of mine closure, there is still a disproportionate number of un-remediated mine sites across Australia. The ability to place mines in C&M is just one policy problem that contributes to the absence of closed mine sites. There is an expectation that these sites are being managed and mining will recommence. However, mines may stay in C&M for extended periods, drawing down on companies’ financial resources and putting the company’s ability to recommence or rehabilitate in jeopardy. It is not clear that the policy framework for C&M are fit for purpose.

This study examines contemporary C&M regulations and practices in Australia. Primary research data from interviews with regulators and industry representatives has been used to develop an understanding of how regulations are applied to mines in C&M and to explore tensions and barriers to achieving mine closure. The study highlights the policy environment in which regulations for the mining sector in Australia are formed and tensions at the regulatory level that enables C&M to function as both a ‘loophole and a lifeline’ for miners and governments alike.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters by Research)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Environmental and Conservation Sciences
United Nations SDGs: Goal 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
Supervisor(s): Hughes, Michael and Haigh, Yvonne
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