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Loophole or lifeline? The policy challenges of mines in care and maintenance

Pepper, M., Hughes, M.ORCID: 0000-0002-9810-1891 and Haigh, Y. (2021) Loophole or lifeline? The policy challenges of mines in care and maintenance. The Extractive Industries and Society, 8 (3). Art. 100879.

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Care and maintenance (C&M) refers to mines that have closed temporarily. This can be used disingenuously as a loophole to avoid mine closure, or legitimately as a lifeline with the view to recommence mining. This paper focusses on Australia, with a well-developed mining industry, a substantial mining legacy and a growing number of mines due to close. The aim of this paper is to understand and contextualise C&M as a policy challenge, identifying the barriers and constraints to recommence C&M mines and the opportunities and limitations of regulatory options to deliver positive outcomes. The method included policy document analysis followed by semi-structured interviews.

Results suggest C&M policies in Australia are few, unclear and their application limited by the high risk of C&M mines becoming abandoned. Existing policies are unable to address the complexities and vulnerabilities of mines in C&M and do not address the tension between the objective to mine and policy requirements to close mines. The findings suggest a tension between firmer regulation of C&M and a possible increased risk of abandonment. Further policy development for C&M could assist in avoiding future legacy mines but is unlikely to address the existing barriers that prevent mines in C&M from recommencing.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): College of Arts, Business, Law and Social Sciences
Environmental and Conservation Sciences
Centre for Climate-Impacted Terrestrial Ecosystems
Harry Butler Institute
Publisher: Elsevier
Copyright: © 2021 Elsevier Ltd.
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