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Mining for Closure: Policies and Guidelines for Sustainable Mining Practice and Closure of Mines

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The Mining For Closure report aims to present a basis for action within South Eastern Europe (SEE) and the Tisza River Basin (TRB) towards the development of corporate practice, regulatory frameworks, governance guidelines and/or financial and insurance markets suitable for the support of a modern mining industry in the region. Further the report seeks to help SEE and jurisdictions in the TRB deal with the legacies of past mining activities. In particular, the report seeks to present a number of options and ideas that can be applied to address the funding and execution of mine closure and mine rehabilitation while still achieving social and economic conditions suitable for new and ongoing mining activities. The recommendations and guidance contained in the report supports other initiatives by international bodies that provide guidance to national and international institutions in their role as stakeholders in the mining activities. Further, it seeks to support ongoing national efforts to align legislative frameworks with European legislation, international legislation and best international practice. However, Mining for Closure also provides the foundation for filling an important deficiency in international action namely seeking to deal with abandoned and orphaned mine sites and the serious environmental and social risks associated with them. This issue has particulare relevance for the SEE and the TRB region. The report comprehensively outlines the challenges and the need for sustainable mining; establishes the rationale for best environmental practice in mining or mining for closure as it will be termed within this document; outlines the important stakeholders in mining and a manner of assessing their relative salience; provides a discussion of the mechanics of mine closure and abandonment; and then presents a summary framework and principles for mining in SEE and the TRB and delineates the next steps forward that need to be taken in the SEE and the TRB regions. The rationale for mining for closure in SEE and the Tisza River Basin The mining sector is an important contributer to local and national economies in SEE and the TRB. However, in parts of the region, it is often characterised by inappropriate planning, and operational and post-operational practices taking place within inadequate regulatory frameworks. Poor or negligible implementation of mine rehabilitation and closure activities has been one outcome of note. In SEE and the TRB this has resulted in,¬ and continues to cause, significant adverse environmental and health and safety impacts and related liabilities. Increasing expectations for environmental protection, desires for reduced human health risks, competition for land, and the increasing value of the natural environment for recreational space have led to marked improvements in regulatory requirements and mining practice in a number of countries. Furthermore many mining companies have introduced management policies, practices and technologies that markedly reduce the environmental harm caused by mining. Continued improvement in mining practice can be expected as can stakeholder expectations for ever higher standards. Due to the prevalence of mining legacies in SEE and the TRB, the manner in which mines are closed is central to this. As a part of general improvements in international mining, mine planning, mine closure practices and the conduct of mine operations to facilitate environmentally acceptable closure have also evolved significantly in recent years. While in the past communities often saw that the only choice available was whether a deposit should be mined or not, it has been clearly shown that the manner in which a mine is planned can have a major positive influences on the magnitude and duration of impacts during the life cycle and after mine closure. Future mines and existing mines that continue operations will need to include closure as an integral part of a project life cycle. They will need to be designed to ensure that future public health and safety are not compromised; environmental resources are not subject to physical and chemical deterioration; post-mining uses for the site are beneficial and sustainable term; adverse socio-economic impacts are minimised; and socio-economic benefits are maximised. It is anticipated that mining will continue to underpin the economies of many countries in SEE and the TRB in the future. Ongoing and new developments to process and mine the mineral resources of mining nations will be vital for many of them to pursue sustainable development. However, mining activities that result in legacies such as those that exist today are unacceptable jurisdictions in SEE and the TRB must embrace mining for closure practices. In recognition of this importance, the report is intended to help facilitate mining policy development, capacity development and institutional development that can yield a sustainable mix of social, economic, and environmental outcomes from mining. In contrast to countries that have already implemented good international mining practices , countries in SEE and the TRB have yet to develop sufficiently sophisticated corporate governance, regulatory frameworks, or financial and insurance markets to adequately address mine closure rules or funding. This will require innovative approaches, flexibility and new partnerships between governments, industry, communities and other stakeholders in SEE and the TRB. Comprehensive mine closure for abandoned mines, presently operating mines, and future mines remains a major challenge for virtually every mining nation in the world. To accommodate the need to close abandoned mines and to ensure that existing and future mines are appropriately closed will require the cooperation of a diverse stakeholder community, new and innovative methods of financing closure and major policy and legislative change in most nations to ensure post-mining sustainable development, Clark et al. (2000). Mining for closure requires recognition that mining is a temporary use of land, but that the nature of potential impacts can be exceedingly long term. Further, such impacts can negatively affect a wide range of stakeholders and economic development in addition to the ecological environment. Mining for closure is a sustainability issue not just an environmental issue. Approaches to new mining projects Mining for Closure seeks to assist National actors in the development of reclamation and decommissioning standards that are in-keeping with leading mining nations; that address closure options, processing and ongoing reclamation; that have appropriate terms and conditions for site reclamation and decommissioning; that ensure that closure plans are updated, and that ensure that sufficient financial security (bonds, assurances, etc.) are in place prior to development. Approaches for dealing with orphaned and abandoned mines Mining for Closure also strives to aid National actors in the exploration of potential partnerships and approaches for remediation of orphan and abandoned mining sites focusing on the creation of future economic and social values in the context of a healthy environment, rather than simply aiming to clean up . Such partnerships will likely involve both the public and private sectors, and may well embrace players who are not usually engaged in post-mining regeneration. Needed are innovative technological solutions, creative financial mechanisms, new legal instruments and unconventional partnerships. Needed is also the full engagement of policy makers and legislators at all levels of government, of companies, the investment community, local communities and non-governmental organisations. Capacity in Mining for Closure In the context of SEE and the TRB, the task at hand encompasses more than ensuring mine closure and rehabilitating mining legacies. The strengthening of institutional frameworks is also vital to manage and reduce trans-boundary risks related to such hazardous activities, to facilitate the successful management of trans-boundary natural resources and to influence the evolution of social norms. There is a clear need for a capacity-building programme to enhance the ability of national agencies and mines inspectorates to deal with the legacy of mining sites in the region. Moreover, it must be ensured that new mining projects are based on sound environmental and security principles. Mining for Closure attempts to lay the foundation for a programme to apply a combination of capacity-building tools including pilot studies, knowledge transfer, case study analysis, regional workshop(s) to exchange experience, and development of country action programmes. National actors should be assisted in building agency capacity in the following areas, inter alia: environmental impact and risk assessment, and screening of new mining projects; incorporation of public security measures and emergency preparedness into mining permits and licences; dealing with non-active mines, including abandoned sites; capacity building for governmental and regulatory actors involved, or to be involved in activities such as those listed above. Furthermore, Mining for Closure is meant to promote a more open and informed debate surrounding the need for mining and the ability of mining to serve as a valuable economic driver for development while improving the environment. Awareness raising among all stakeholders with regards best environmental practice in mining will be central to this. This report was prepared on behalf of the Environment and Security (ENVSEC) Initiative. The Environment Security (ENVSEC) initiative is led by three organizations – the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) as an associate partner. The United Nations Development Programme is the UN´s Global Development Network, advocating for change and connecting countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life. It operates in 166 countries, working with them on responses to global and national development challenges. As they develop local capacity, the countries draw on the UNDP people and its wide range of partners. The UNDP network links and co-ordinates global and national efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. The United Nations Environment Programme, as the world’s leading intergovernmental environmental organization, is the authoritative source of knowledge on the current state of, and trends shaping the global environment. The mission of UNEP is to provide leadership and encourage partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations. With 55 participating states, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe is a pre-eminent instrument for early warning, conflict prevention, conflict management and post-conflict rehabilitation in continental Europe, the Caucasus, Central Asia and North America. Since its beginnings in 1973, the OSCE has taken a comprehensive view of security, including through the protection and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms, economic and environmental co-operation, and political dialogue. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization embodies the transatlantic link that binds Europe and North America in a unique defence and security alliance. In response to recent changes in the overall security environment, NATO took on new fundamental tasks. These include addressing both instability caused by regional and ethnic conflicts within Europe and threats emanating from beyond the Euro-Atlantic area. NATO’s ‘Security Through Science’ programme brings scientists together to work on new security issues of concern to NATO, Partner and Mediterranean Dialogue countries. The views expressed in this publication are those of the lead author (Philip Peck, ENVSEC Mining Consultant) and do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, or of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The designations employed and the presentations do not imply the expression of any opinion on the part of the three agencies concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area of its authority, or delineation of its frontiers and boundaries.
Content may be subject to copyright.
[outside cover provided as
separate file]
This report was prepared on behalf of the Environment
and Security (EnvSec) Initiative. The Environment Secu-
rity (ENVSEC) initiative is led by three organizations – the
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and
the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Eu-
rope (OSCE) with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization
(NATO) as an associate partner.
The United Nations Development Programme is the UN´s
Global Development Network, advocating for change and
connecting countries to knowledge, experience and re-
sources to help people build a better life. It operates in
166 countries, working with them on responses to global
and national development challenges. As they develop lo-
cal capacity, the countries draw on the UNDP people and
its wide range of partners. The UNDP network links and
co-ordinates global and national efforts to achieve the Mil-
lennium Development Goals.
The United Nations Environment Programme, as the world’s
leading intergovernmental environmental organization, is
the authoritative source of knowledge on the current state
of, and trends shaping the global environment. The mission
of UNEP is to provide leadership and encourage partnership
in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and
enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life
without compromising that of future generations.
With 55 participating states, the Organization for Security
and Co-operation in Europe is a pre-eminent instrument
for early warning, conflict prevention, conflict management
and post-conflict rehabilitation in continental Europe, the
Caucasus, Central Asia and North America. Since its begin-
nings in 1973, the OSCE has taken a comprehensive view
of security, including through the protection and promotion
of human rights and fundamental freedoms, economic and
environmental co-operation, and political dialogue.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization embodies the trans-
atlantic link that binds Europe and North America in a
unique defence and security alliance. In response to recent
changes in the overall security environment, NATO took on
new fundamental tasks. These include addressing both in-
stability caused by regional and ethnic conflicts within Eu-
rope and threats emanating from beyond the Euro-Atlantic
area. NATO’s ‘Security Through Science’ programme brings
scientists together to work on new security issues of concern
to NATO, Partner and Mediterranean Dialogue countries.
The views expressed in this publication are those of the lead
author (Philip Peck ENVSEC Mining consultant) and do not
necessarily reflect those of the United Nations, the Organi-
zation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, or of the
North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The designations em-
ployed and the presentations do not imply the expression of
any opinion on the part of the three agencies concerning the
legal status of any country, territory, city or area of its author-
ity, or delineation of its frontiers and boundaries.
Copyright © 2005: UNEP, UNDP, OSCE, NATO
ISBN: 82-7701-037-0
mining
closure
for
guidelines
mining practice
and closure
of mines
sustainable
policies
for
and
IV MINING FOR CLOSURE
acknowledgments
The development of this document, Mining for Clo-
sure: policies, practices and guidelines for sustainable
mining practices and closure of mines has been an un-
dertaking of The Environment Security (ENVSEC)
initiative. As such, the document was prepared un-
der the direction of the initiative partners – the Unit-
ed Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP),
and the Organization for Security and Co-operation
in Europe (OSCE) with the North Atlantic Treaty Or-
ganization (NATO) as an associate partner.
This report was prepared on behalf of UNEP,
UNDP, OSCE and NATO by:
Philip Peck (The International Institute for
Industrial Environmental Economics, Lund
University, Lund)
Fritz Balkau (UNEP DTIE, Paris)
Jasmina Bogdanovic, Petter Sevaldsen, Janet
Fernandez Skaalvik, Otto Simonett, Thore André
Thorsen (UNEP GRID-Arendal, Arendal,
Geneva, Vienna)
Inkar Kadyrzhanova, Peter Svedberg (UNDP)
Raul Daussa (OSCE)
The draft document was also widely circulated for re-
view outside these agencies. The ENVSEC partners
appreciate the time that many organizations and indi-
viduals took to share ideas, discuss their own practical
experiences, and review the draft of this document.
Many of the participants of the Sub-regional Confer-
ence on “Reducing Environment and Security Risks from
Mining in South Eastern Europe and the Tisza River
Basin conducted in Cluj-Napoca in Romania in May
2005 are included in this number. A number of the
ideas raised by these reviewers have been incorporat-
ed into this document. In particular, the Author and
the ENVSEC partners wish to thank the following in-
dividuals who reviewed all or part of the document
and submitted insightful feedback and critique:
Gilles Tremblay
Program Manager, Special Projects, Natural
Resources Canada
Andrew Parsons
Programme Director, Environment, Health
and Safety, International Council on Mining
and Metals
Dirk van Zyl
Director, Mining Life-Cycle Center University
of Nevada, Reno
Alexios Antypas,
Director, Department of Environmental Sci-
ences and Policy, Central European University
Stephen Stec
Head of Environmental Law Programme and
Senior Legal Specialist at the Regional Environ-
mental Center for Central and Eastern Europe
Further, the ENVSEC partners and the Author
wish to express their gratitude and best wishes
to Fritz Balkau formerly of UNEP DTIE in Paris.
Fritz was central to the instigation of the ENVSEC
mining and environment work in SEE in 2004.
He also was deeply involved in the Sub-regional
conference at which the draft version of this report
was launched and retired soon after. We thank him
for his many and valuable contributions over the
years.
Financial Support for the activities and publication
of this report was provided by:
Canadian International Development Agency
Dutch Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning
and the Environment
Any errors and/or omissions of this document re-
main the fault of the author.
MINING FOR CLOSURE V
preface
In the debate on what role the environment plays
in causing or resolving conflict, the partnership of
international organizations working on the “Envi-
ronment and Security” initiative takes a pragmatic
position. We focus on participatory assessments
and targeted follow-up activities in conflict-prone
areas and believe that we can help communicate to
achieve environmentally sound development and
peace on the ground.
Conducting assessments of transboundary envi-
ronmental risks in Central Asia, the Caucasus and
South Eastern Europe we have concluded that min-
ing both in terms of legacies and future planning
needs special attention. Environmental protection,
human health risks, competition for land have in-
creasingly to be taken into consideration in mining
regulation and practice. Positive trends are visible:
project planning and conduct of mine operations
to facilitate environmentally and socially acceptable
closure have evolved significantly in recent years.
In this context, we are happy to present the EN-
VSEC publication: “Mining for Closure – Policies and
guidelines for sustainable mining practice and closure
of mines”. It is intended as a checklist and guide-
book on “best practices” related to mining, useful
for an audience far beyond the mining industry, in-
cluding government, NGOs, international organi-
zations and the general public.
“Mining for Closure” was first presented to a broader
group of experts and politicians in a sub-regional
Ministerial Conference, in Cluj Napoca, Romania
in May 2005. The participants welcomed and en-
dorsed the report as “a guide and checklist for re-
ducing and mitigating the environmental, health
and security risks from mining practices in the
‘Cluj Declaration’ issued at the conference.
We see in “Mining for Closure” something like a re-
cipie for stimulating debate and public accountabil-
ity of mining legacies and operations. Through ap-
plying the basic principles and guidelines, not only
mining will become environmentally and socially
more sustainable, it may also result in more de-
mocracy, increased wellbeing and security of those
directly and indirectly affected.
Frits Schlingemann
Ben Slay
Bernard Snoy
Chris DeWispelaere
Director and Regional Representative, UNEP Regional Office for Europe
Director, UNDP Bratislava Regional Office
Co-ordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities
Director, NATO Security Through Science Programme
VI MINING FOR CLOSURE
executive summary
This document aims to present a basis for action
within South Eastern Europe (SEE) and within the
Tisza River Basin (TRB) towards the development
of corporate practice, regulatory frameworks, gov-
ernance guidelines and/or financial and insur-
ance markets suitable for the support of a mod-
ern mining industry. In particular, this document
wishes to present a number of options and ideas
that can be applied to address the funding and
execution of mine closure and mine rehabilita-
tion while still achieving conditions suitable for
new and ongoing mining activities. Further, the
document provides details of many important in-
formation sources and is intended to constitute a
reference source.
The draft document was launched at the Sub-re-
gional Conference on “Reducing Environment and
Security Risks from Mining in South Eastern Europe
and the Tisza River Basin (TRB)” conducted in Cluj-
Napoca, Romania, 11-14 May 2005.
The sub-regional conference drew high-level partici-
pation of Mr. Klaus Toepfer, UNEP Executive Direc-
tor, Mrs. Sulfina Barbu, Minister of Environment and
Water Management of Romania, and Mr. Miklos Per-
sanyi, Minister of Environment and Water of Hunga-
ry. It was attended by representatives from a range of
countries and jurisdictions including: Albania, Bosnia
and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, The former Yu-
goslav Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Serbia and
Montenegro and Kosovo (territory under UN adminis-
tration), Romania, the Slovak Republic, and Hungary.
The objective of the Conference was to draw up
an action programme to reduce environment and
security risks from mining in the region, includ-
ing further assessment and pilot projects at high-
risk sites, and endorse guidelines for sustainable
mining practice and closure of mines. The event
concluded with the signing of Declaration of the
High-Level Panel of the Sub-regional Conference
included as Appendix A to this report.
MINING FOR CLOSURE VII
rationale for the
mining for closure
report
In 1999, a representative of the European Bank for
Reconstruction and Development (Nazari) wrote
the following:
The mining sector is a very important contribu-
tor to local and national economies, including in
central and eastern Europe (CEE) and the former
Soviet Union (FSU). However, in parts of CEE
and the FSU, the mining sector has often been
characterised by inappropriate planning, opera-
tional and post-operational practices, including
a lack of an adequate regulatory framework and
inadequate implementation of mine rehabilita-
tion and closure activities. In some of the regions
associated with significant mining activities, this
has resulted and continues to result in significant
adverse environmental and health and safety im-
pacts and related liabilities. As a result, donors
and international organisations and agencies are
frequently requested to provide financial assistance
to alleviate the most heavily impacted areas.
A programme to develop a policy and regulatory
framework for financial provisioning related to
mine rehabilitation and closure should be initi-
ated. This programme would be able to assist par-
ticipating countries in developing the required pol-
icy and regulatory framework to further promote
and implement long term environmentally sound
and sustainable development in the mining sector.
The programme would also contribute to reducing
the uncertainties associated with post-operational
practices, and potentially related adverse environ-
mental impacts and costs. It would also facilitate
the introduction of a standardised approach to
this issue, establishing a ‘level playing field with
fixed goal posts’ for regulators, investors, mining
companies, and operators ...
Despite efforts, the progress of work to meet such calls
has not been rapid. There remains much to be done.
Indeed, it is perceived by, inter alia, the ENVSEC Ini-
tiative partners (OSCE, UNDP, UNEP, in association
with NATO) that the efforts by international bodies to
address this issue and provide guidance to national
and international institutions in their role as stake-
holders in mining activities remain insufficient. This
important deficiency in international action has seri-
ous implications for the SEE/TRB region.
general background
Increasing expectations for environmental protec-
tion, desires for reduced human health risks, compe-
tition for land, and the increasing value of the natural
environment as recreational space have led to marked
improvements in regulatory requirements and min-
ing practice in a number of countries. Many miners
have introduced management policies, practices and
technologies that markedly reduce the environmen-
tal harm caused by mining (Environment Australia,
2002b; Gammon, 2002; Miller, 2005). When viewed
in combination with growing desires to preserve land
areas as a repository for valuable biological assets, for
natural environmental services, and for aesthetic ap-
peal, these developments appear likely continue to
drive continued improvement in mining practice.
As a part of this positive trend, mine planning,
mine closure practices and the conduct of mine op-
erations to facilitate environmentally and socially
acceptable closure have also evolved significantly in
recent years. While in the past communities often
saw that the only choice available was whether a
deposit should be mined or not, it has been clearly
shown that the manner in which a mine is planned
can have major positive influences on the magni-
tude and duration of impacts over the life of the
development and following its closure (Environ-
mental Protection Agency, 1995a, p.2).
In this context, the title Mining for Closure chosen for
this document is not intended to indicate that existing
mining activities should be bought to closure, and fu-
ture mining activities curtailed significantly. To the
contrary, the mining sector is a very important con-
tributor to local and national economies and it must
be recognised that in the past, authorities did gener-
ally not require the “closing” of mines in the manner
described throughout this report. Further, the extrac-
tive industries will continue to underpin the econo-
mies of many countries in the future. As such, ongo-
ing and new developments to process and mine the
mineral resources of “mining nations” will be vital for
many of them to pursue sustainable development. In
recognition of this importance, this document is in-
tended to help facilitate mining policy development,
capacity development and institutional development
so that they can yield a sustainable mix of social, eco-
nomic, and environmental outcomes from mining.
The key focus of this document is upon countries in
SEE/TRB, however much of the material and ideas
presented here are intended to be generic.
VIII MINING FOR CLOSURE
objectives of the
report
The ENVSEC Initiative seeks to facilitate a process
whereby key public decision-makers in South East-
ern and Eastern Europe, Central Asia and Cauca-
sus are able to motivate action to advance and pro-
tect peace and the environment. This should occur
via the collaborative articulation and adoption of
policies, practices and guidelines for sustainable
mining practices, Mining for Closure, and closure of
mines in order to support the reduction of environ-
ment and security risks in SEE/TRB.
This document has the aim: to support the articula-
tion and adoption of policies, practices and guide-
lines for sustainable mining practices, Mining for
Closure and closure of mines for the reduction en-
vironment and security risks in SEE/TRB.
Towards that aim, the document has the following
objectives:
objective I – to present principles, ideas and guidelines
for mining policy development, capacity development
and institutional development that can yield a sustain-
able mix of social, economic, and environmental out-
comes in the SEE/TRB region with key foci being:
operation of existing and new mining opera-
tions in order to ensure and facilitate cost-ef-
fective closure that fulfils acceptable sustain-
ability requirements;
re-mining or otherwise valorising abandoned
or orphaned sites in order to make safe and/or
remediate and close them (including finding
other uses/economic value from sites);
closure, making safe and/or remediation of
abandoned or orphaned sites;
objective II to support the ongoing assessment
of transboundary environmental and human safety
risks posed by sub-standard mining operations – both
active and abandoned; implementation of risk reduc-
tion measures through demonstration at selected
sites, evaluation and testing of possible policy chang-
es and transboundary cooperation mechanisms.
what is mining for
closure?
The items included above are packaged here as a
concept labelled Mining for Closure. In essence, the
general ethos of Mining for Closure is captured by
integrated mine planning where a mine closure
plan should be an integral part of a project life cycle
and be designed to ensure that:1
Future public health and safety are not com-
promised2;
Environmental and resources are not subject
to physical and chemical deterioration;3
The after-use of the site is beneficial and sus-
tainable in the long term;
Any adverse socio-economic impacts are mini-
mized; and
All socio-economic benefits are maximized.
In addition, there is a great interest in the legacies
of the past – and how to deal with them. These are
discussed below.
challenges identified
in previous unep studies
Mining legacies are clearly identified as a key en-
vironmental issue within SEE/TRB. A desk as-
sessment of security risks posed by mining, and
particularly those associated with pollution from
residual mining wastes Reducing Environment &
Security Risks from Mining in South Eastern Europe
(Peck, 2004) and the UNEP Rapid Environmental
Assessment of the Tisza River Basin (Burnod-Requia,
2004), showed clearly that there are a large number
of mineral resource related sites that are of high
hazard in the SEE/TRB area. Further, evidence was
found that many have significant risks associated
with them that threaten the environment, public
health and safety, and/or regional socio-political
stability in SEE/TRB countries.
Moreover, it was found that mining and minerals
processing operations can affect (and are affecting)
the surrounding environment and communities via:
airborne transport of pollutants such as dust,
smelter emissions, gases, vapours;
1. After Sassoon (2000).
2. Generally as posed by safety hazards such as unstable tailings
impoundments, toxic waters, unsafe buildings, equipment, open
holes, and so forth. However, it must be recognised that few (if
any) items in the built or natural environment are “hazard free”.
Thus, it is reasonable to expect that assume that in all countries
there should be transparent debate and agreement on the level
of acceptable risk pertinent environmental, social and economic
aspects of mines and mining facilities post-closure.
3. The terms applied here, as drawn from Sassoon (2000), van
Zyl, Sassoon, Fleury & Kyeyune (2002a) are generic but are in-
tended to bear with them the intent and limitations presented in
the source documents.
MINING FOR CLOSURE IX
mass movement of “solid” wastes (generally
tailings containing heavy metals and toxic
compounds);
mass movement of liquid, or semi-liquid
wastes (again, generally tailings containing
heavy metals and toxic compounds);
waterborne transport of wastes as suspended
solids and as dissolved materials.
Such physical risks occur in many jurisdictions
around the globe, but the mining countries of this
part of Europe share a geographical location and
historical pathway that combines with their geo-
logical resources in a unique manner. Some of the
parameters shared by most or all countries in the
region are that:
the mining sector is a very important contribu-
tor to local and national economies and that on-
going and new mining activities will be required
to underpin the economies in the future;
the countries are (relatively) rich in mineral re-
sources and have a long – or very long – history
of mineral resource extraction activities;
there already exists a serious history of min-
ing accidents, due in part to the widespread
neglect of environmental safety and human
security issues combined with sub-standard
extraction and waste management activities,
particularly in the post 1945 era;
transboundary pollution risks associated with
mining and mineral processing activities and
the legacies of such past activities are many
and marked;4
nation states have been subject to marked
changes in economic and political circum-
stances, conflict, and socio-economic hardship
during the 1990s that have exacerbated the
problems associated with some sites;
accession to the European Union is imminent
or foreseeable and compliance with a range of
EU environmental and safety regulations is re-
quired for that process to proceed;
legislative frameworks addressing mining and
minerals processing activities, extractive in-
dustry legacies as well as accountability (and
jurisdictional remit) for the environmental
aspects of these activities are still in a state of
development or flux;
capacity within institutions supporting the
extractive industries as well as those guiding
transboundary risk management and/or disas-
ter response are currently insufficient to deal
with the task at hand;
in economies in transition, national fiscal re-
serves available for the financing of site recla-
mation work, and/or social welfare “nets” for
the support of communities affected by the
environmental impacts of the extractive indus-
tries, or the closure of mining operations, may
be minimal or non-existent.
This confluence of conditions suggests some ur-
gency in the matter – particularly in issues sur-
rounding abandoned and orphaned sites (legacies).
In addition, there seems to be a clear and unequivo-
cal interest from within the subject states in the pro-
motion of flexible solutions to find other economic
uses or value in abandoned or orphaned mine sites
as well as in removing their hazard vectors.
Against this background, it is held that it is necessary
to support the ongoing assessment of transbound-
ary environmental and human safety risks posed
by sub-standard mining operations – both active
and abandoned; implementation of risk reduction
measures through demonstration at selected sites,
evaluation and testing of possible policy changes
and transboundary cooperation mechanisms.
an agenda for the
mining for closure
report
At the outset it is reiterated that a fundamental point
of departure is the view that ongoing mining activi-
ties are vital to sustainable development and envi-
ronmental protection in the SEE/TRB in general.
This is a view shared in varying degrees by develop-
ment agencies such as the World Bank Group (Ono-
rato, Fox, & Strongman, 1997; Strongman, 2000)
and federations of environmental groups such as
the European Environmental Bureau (2000).
Further, the report addresses key need areas sup-
porting the “next steps forward” at both local (na-
tional) scale and in a transboundary and regional
perspective that were presented within the Desk-
assessment study for the Environment and Se-
curity Initiative Project generated in 2004 (Peck,
4. Countries are the producers or receivers of chronic and (po-
tentially) acute pollution from their neighbours that can include:
airborne transport of pollutants such as dust, smelter emissions,
gases, vapours; mass movement of “solid” wastes (generally tail-
ings containing heavy metals and toxic compounds); mass move-
ment of liquid, or semi-liquid wastes (again, generally tailings
containing heavy metals and toxic compounds); waterborne trans-
port of wastes as suspended solids and as dissolved materials.
XMINING FOR CLOSURE
2004) and some of the key items within the Rapid
Assessment report (Burnod-Requia, 2004). It pro-
vides information and guidance for regional deci-
sion makers on how they can move policy instru-
ments (measures) forward in the areas enfolding
the extractive industries. Central to achieving this
is understanding of how many of the problems
came to pass.
A range of reasons for mine abandonment are
presented in literature surrounding the industry
(Environmental Protection Agency, 1995b; Mul-
ligan, 1996; Nazari, 1999; Sengupta, 1993; Smith
& Underwood, 2000; van Zyl et al., 2002a; WOM
Geological Associates, 2000). The mining related
elements that create the legacy of abandoned and
orphaned mines are held to include:
the general absence of mine reclamation poli-
cies and regulations until the latter part of the
twentieth century;
ineffective enforcement of mine reclamation
policies and regulations if, and where in exist-
ence;
the absence of financial security mechanisms
to ensure funds for parties such as government
to conduct remediation in the event a mining
company going bankrupt and being unable to
cover the costs of rehabilitation;
inadequate financial security to address re-
mediation if, and where such funds were set
aside;
unforeseen economic events that caused early
cessation of activity or left companies bank-
rupt, such as a sudden drop in metal prices,
insurmountable difficulties with mining/mill-
ing, and/or infrastructure problems;
past technical practices undertaken such as
the sinking of numerous exploration shafts
and mineral deposit test pits that were never
back-filled prior to the introduction of drilling
equipment for mineral deposit evaluation;
national security issues such as the supply
cut-off for strategic metals in times of conflict
leading to rapid mining activity with scant
consideration of closure requirements or op-
erational longevity;
loss of mine data including records of under-
ground workings and surface openings due to
natural disaster, regulatory flux, unscheduled
cessation of activities, political disruption and
conflict;
political unrest, conflict and political instabil-
ity leading to unscheduled cessation of activi-
ties of a number of mines; and
small scale mining conducted by artisanal or
illegal miners, also including the uncontrolled
occupation of mine sites.
Since mine abandonment is usually sudden and
unplanned, governments are often left responsi-
ble for mine closure and rehabilitation. However,
it is clear that most of the points outlined above
can be planned for, or are preventable in some way.
Indeed there are growing expectations around the
world that this always be done. Prevention of fu-
ture mining legacies can be achieved through the
Mining for Closure activities and principles summa-
rised within this document. Prevention is feasible
and desirable via sound governance.
activities within
mining for closure
In essence, Mining for Closure approaches encom-
pass:
the definition of a vision of the end result for
mining land that sets out concrete objectives
for implementation;
ensuring that the mine closure plan is an inte-
gral part of a project life cycle;
the preparation of a mine closure plan early
in the process of mine development and in
consultation with the regulating authority and
local communities;
the explicit inclusion of environmental, social
and economic aspects in the planning for min-
ing operations;
allowances for review and evolution that
stretch from the pre-mine planning phase,
through construction, mining, and mine clo-
sure to post-mine stewardship.
As more specific items, such processes should in-
corporate:
the concerns/participation of other stakehold-
ers in the reclamation objectives;
plans for action if ownership reverts to the
state despite all efforts to ensure otherwise;
the preservation of mine management and
geological records;
early delineation of project creditors’ claims on
the site;
legal considerations for ownership, both now
and in the past;.
maintenance of control over tenure if leases
expire and another party wants to obtain rights
to the surface/subsurface;
MINING FOR CLOSURE XI
adequate capacity among regulatory person-
nel;
ongoing research and testing of remediation
strategies and technologies and integration of
results in Mining for Closure review processes;
surveillance of the views and desires for the in-
volvement of local communities (in particular
where such parties wish to ensure the quality
of information that they are receiving – de-
manding a role in site monitoring and access
to information to ensure accountability of op-
erator and governments are examples);
the maintenance of communication between
private and public bodies to improve closure
policy and regulations;
ongoing searches for financing measures for
clean-up; disaster response; spills management
and so forth, particularly for orphaned sites.
It is necessary to underline that it is the role of gov-
ernment (as the representative of stakeholders in
the nation state) to ensure that the expectations of
stakeholders are met. Further, it must be noted that
stakeholder expectations are inherently fluid – and
indeed that such expectations can be influenced,
and perhaps should be where they do not best re-
flect the interests of all.
the governmental case
for mining for closure
While there are other advantages defining the gov-
ernmental case for pursuit of Mining for Closure, it
suffices to summarise them within the following
broad categories:
the prevention of harmful environmental and
social impacts;
lower risk of non-compliances;
greater acceptance/less resistance from key
stakeholders (in particular local communities
and land owners);
lower financial burdens to the national purse
for mine closure and rehabilitation, and
lower risks for significant liabilities post-closure.
In the context of developing and restructuring
economies, these points are perhaps even more
telling than for wealthier nations. It is clear how-
ever, that where governments do not have sufficient
fiscal resources to deal with legacies, then even
more innovativeness and flexibility will be required
in order to protect the public and the environment
from the risks posed by mining legacies.
the business case for
mining for closure
It is also important – and fortunate – that it also
makes good business sense to adopt best environ-
mental practice in mining, and to mine for closure.
Importantly for mining organizations, these bene-
fits evidence themselves both during mining oper-
ations and at the end of mine life and as such, they
constitute far more than just cost savings that can
be achieved during the execution of a task forced
upon them.
Benefits (principally after Environment Australia,
2002a) include inter alia:
continual reduction of liabilities via optimization
of rehabilitation works undertaken during the
productive phase of mining operations rather
than deferral of costs to the end of the project;
provision of a basis for estimating rehabilita-
tion costs prior to final closure so that suffi-
cient financial and material resources can be
set aside;
ongoing testing, assessment and feedback re-
garding the effectiveness of rehabilitation de-
signs and/or processes in a site specific fash-
ion during the active mine life;
increased efficiency in execution of work (e.g.
in reduction of double-handling for waste ma-
terials and topsoil);
possibilities to optimise mine planning for ef-
ficient resource extraction and return of eco-
system to a functional form;
reduced areas of land disturbance through use of
smaller waste landforms and mining paths, and
in some circumstances progressive backfilling;
identification of areas of high risk as priorities
for ongoing research and/or remediation;
the direct involvement of operations personnel
in achieving mine rehabilitation outcomes;
the involvement of key stakeholders (especial-
ly local communities) in setting priorities for
mine rehabilitation;
reduction of ongoing responsibilities for the
site and facilitation of timely relinquishment
of tenements and bond recovery;
reductions in impacts on local communities in
terms of environmental, social and economic
impacts of mine operations;
reduction of exposure to contingent liabilities
related to public safety and environmental
hazards and risks;
lower risk of regulatory non-compliances,
XII MINING FOR CLOSURE
greater acceptance/less resistance from key
stakeholders (in particular local communities
and land owners),
improved access to land resources from gov-
ernments;
improved access to capital from reputable
lending institutions;
the potential for reduced cost of capital and li-
ability insurance;
continual feedback upon the manner in which
community expectations are being achieved.
It is in the best interest of business for such activities
to take place at the right phase of mine life in order
to minimise such expenditures. As mine decommis-
sioning usually occurs at a point in the life of an op-
eration where the economic recovery of minerals has
ceased, and cash flows are minimal or non-existent,
then this is not the time to be undertaking the bulk
of rehabilitation operations. Again, it is stressed that
the overall mine decommissioning process should be
integrated with the overall mine operation planning
process. Further, if decommissioning and closure are
not undertaken in a planned and effective manner,
chances are that the results will also be sub-optimal.
the way forward
This document was created in order to present prin-
ciples, ideas and guidelines for mining policy devel-
opment, capacity development and institutional de-
velopment that can yield a sustainable mix of social,
economic, and environmental outcomes in the SEE/
TRB region. It has been generated in recognition of
a fundamental divide between the interests of min-
ing companies who typically wish to develop mines,
achieve a good return for shareholders, then leave
when production is finished and the interests of the
communities who desire wealth and income opportu-
nities created in their midst that will last over time.
This said, the document builds the case for the stra-
tegic relevance of Mining for Closure for both the
mining industry and for governments. Key actors
on both sides clearly recognise that the very viabil-
ity of the mining industry is challenged because of
high expectations for environmental protection,
desires for lower risk to human health, compet-
ing land use demands, and the increasing value of
the natural environment as recreational space. The
survival of the mining industry and sustainable de-
velopment of countries in SEE/TRB both require a
vibrant extractive industry that society accepts.
Throughout this text, a raft of principles, ideas and
guidelines are provided. These address the mining
policy development, capacity development and in-
stitutional development that need to be addressed
in order to ensure the operation of existing and
new mining operations in order for cost-effective
closure fulfilling acceptable sustainability require-
ments can be achieved. Further, a wide range of
ideas for exploration is presented regarding the
re-mining or otherwise valorising of abandoned or
orphaned sites in order to make safe and/or reme-
diate and close them.
In its content, the document establishes that the
way forward must include fostering of institutional
frameworks that support abandoned or orphaned
site management and a shift to sustainable min-
ing and minerals processing practice and that this
will require immediate and ongoing capacity build-
ing for (public sector) institutional actors as well as
significant capacity building among industrial actors.
Pursuant to that, the new skills and knowledge
among institutional actors must be directed at key
tasks of hazard and risk-related uncertainty reduction
via focused information collection and by risk reduc-
tion works at abandoned or orphaned sites. Further,
new skills and knowledge applied within sound
institutional frameworks within all actors must be
applied for risk reduction at operational sites and the
development of new resources and re-mining activities
that are aligned with sustainable development. All
these must include dialogue with key stakeholders
such as national and international NGOs, affected
citizens, and so forth.
This work outlines trends in the expectations of
society and the international community, the
general content, and the degree of international
uptake of best environmental mining in a range
of jurisdictions. As such, the principles presented
should serve to guide National agencies respon-
sible for mineral exploitation, and National agen-
cies responsible for environmental quality in their
work building of the foundations for good mining
policy and administration. Further, such stake-
holders can use this document to help inform
their own expectations for practice and to stimu-
late innovation and creation of solutions tailored
to their own circumstance. Innovation will be very
important as evidence was found throughout this
study that a number of the practices and/or the
scale of investments required elsewhere may not
be affordable here, nor may they be the most ap-
plicable.
MINING FOR CLOSURE xiii
a codification of
principles
A number of principles can be used to guide the
management of existing and new mining opera-
tions in SEE/TRB so that acceptable sustainabil-
ity requirements and cost effective closure can be
achieved. These principles can be used to support
work with abandoned and orphaned mining sites
in order to make them safe and/or remediate, and
close them. It should be noted that the items listed
below should be seen as congruent and synergis-
tic and not exclusive (e.g. such as strict and flexible
rather than strict versus flexible).
In order to Mine for Closure, jurisdictions, policies
and work approaches should be:
ConsistentMine closure requirements and proce-
dures should be consistent with those in place in other
territories of the region. This is particularly important
where two countries share trans-boundary risks.
Centralised – Governments should strive for an
independent mine closure law that establishes a
single agency for implementation.
Strict Legislation should apply the polluter pays
principle strictly and should ensure that the owner
or operator of a mining operation is responsible for
execution and completion of successful reclamation.
Financially assured – Legislation should provide that
(particularly for new operations and operations with
considerable lifespan remaining) financial assur-
ance is provided to ensure successful reclamation.
Long-term financed – Where conditions requiring
long-term care exist, the funding of long-term care
and management should be included in assurance.
However, government legislation should explicitly
provide that at a certain moment the company can
be relieved of future liabilities for the site.
Temporally bounded – Where long-term care is in-
volved, the operator should be responsible to pro-
vide it until relieved of liability, but amenable tem-
poral bounds of such liability should be included in
agreements. This requires that care be long-term
financed.
Low hazard and viable Viable, rather than only
self-sustaining ecosystems, that are compatible
with a healthy environment and with human activi-
ties and are low hazard should be left post-mining.
Measures to address and prevent ongoing pollution
from the site should be in place.
Considered and flexible – The target condition of a
mining site should be carefully considered in the
light of long-term environmental stability but not
in the absence of social and economic uses that
can contribute to making it safe. All encompass-
ing requirements to return a site to its original
condition or to a condition permitting a maximum
range of land uses may be inappropriate. Jurisdic-
tions should be flexible in devising solutions that
match site-specific needs in terms of the types of
mining operation, climate, topography, the sensi-
tivity of the surrounding environment, and social
requirements, and which deliver outcomes con-
sistent with sustainable development principles
and objectives
SynergisticSynergies between actors, particularly
actors with the capacity to provide rehabilitation
service at lowest cost, should be pursued. This may
be achieved by providing incentives for the current
industrial actors to provide expertise, equipment,
supplies and personnel to support government
funding in addressing legacies.
Elastic Innovative, flexible and forgiving frame-
works for indemnification against potential liabili-
ties should be sought, particularly in situations
where this may provide the necessary incentives
for multi-stakeholder participation in reclamation/
rehabilitation works.
Reasonable There must be recognition that in-
sistence on protection against extremely unlikely
events will impose excessive costs and as a conse-
quence, investment incentives may be significantly
reduced. Reasonable approaches must be applied
when jurisdictions seek assurance against the pos-
sibility of loss or damage to the environment.
Creative In situations where the mine is only
marginally profitable or is approaching the end of
its life, a creative approach to the design of the in-
strument may be called for.
Incentive based and tax balancedthe tax or royalty
regime of the country should recognise that finan-
cial assurance imposes some costs on the operator.
This should be balanced to ensure that sustainable
development objectives are assured.
xiv MINING FOR CLOSURE
Sustainability-oriented Conditions imposed for
closure will need to transcend environmental qual-
ity criteria alone to include other important factors
employment and social outcomes, as well as long-
term resource stewardship.
Innovative – Jurisdictions should innovatively seek
alternative economic yield from sites such as the
valorization of wastes; alternative land utilization;
infrastructure re-use; operational underwriting by
tax yield; redevelopment and so forth.
Service oriented Mining for Closure solutions
must identify how essential community services
such as medical care, schools, and so forth can be
continued after mine closure.
Inclusive – Mining for Closure demands an in-
clusive stakeholder approach. This inclusiveness
must stretch beyond consideration of stakeholders
within national boundaries such as communities
and also include both regional nation states and in-
ternational actors.
steps to be taken
Within the immediately coming years there is con-
siderable urgency to achieve development within
institutional frameworks.
Establish detailed and consistent mine closure re-
quirements and procedures across the region accord-
ing to the principles outlined in this document and
of relevant European and international legislation.
Encourage the development of an independent
mine closure law that establishes a single agency
for implementation in each country. Ensure that
these laws are consistent with other such laws
within the same regulatory framework and devel-
oped by the other countries in the region, and that
requirements are not duplicated.
Embark on a capacity-building programme to en-
hance the ability of national agencies and mines
inspectorates to deal with the legacy of mining
sites in the region, and to ensure that new min-
ing projects are based on sound environmental and
security principles. Such works should focus upon
building agency capacity in:
environmental impact and risk assessment,
and screening of new mining projects;
incorporation of public security measures and
emergency preparedness into mining permits
and licences;
dealing with non-active mines, including aban-
doned sites, and
management of transboundary risk.
Similarly, within the immediately coming years
there is some urgency to establish activities and
sanctioned bodies – or strengthen and expand
them where they exist – to progress risk reduction
in general.
Participate in multi-lateral work for the establishment
of officially sanctioned bodies or working groups
with the responsibility of scoping programmes for
hotspot site remediation and seeking international
funding for execution of priority works.
Establish officially sanctioned bodies or working
groups for the assessment and management of
transboundary risk. Such bodies will likely need to
include representatives from generating territories
and receiving territories, and as required include
international experts and international bodies in-
volved in transboundary environmental and re-
gional security issues. Within this, opportunities
should be explored to expand the remit of existing
functional entities to reduce bureaucracy, build on
existing capacity, and maximise efficient use of lim-
ited resources.
Extend &/or establish transboundary notification
and disaster response systems linked to the parties
mentioned above.
Extend &/or establish monitoring programmes,
and/or early warning systems for the assessment
of ongoing chronic pollution, and for the detection
of pollution events.
Similarly, within the immediately coming years
there is some urgency to establish the following ac-
tivities to progress rehabilitation or risk ameliora-
tion at abandoned and orphaned mine sites. These
next steps can be read in the context of flagship pi-
lot remediation projects for learning.
Inventorise & prioritise amongst abandoned and
orphaned sites in order to ensure the best use of
public and private funds. It is unavoidable that
this will require the building of detail inventories
of mining activities and mine related sites in Na-
tional jurisdictions complete with salient content
such as complete details of current ownership and
MINING FOR CLOSURE xv
activity status for identified sites; assessment of the
legal status of abandoned/orphaned mines; geo-
graphical detail such as relationship to watershed
boundaries; basic engineering and infrastructural
parameters and so forth.
Explore the potential of partnerships (including
trans-national partnerships) for remediation of or-
phan and abandoned mining sites that focus on the
creation of future economic and social values in the
context of a healthy environment and involve both
the public and private sectors.
Test & experiment with different forms of partner-
ship and innovative, flexible and forgiving frame-
works for indemnification against potential liabilities
in the first “case study site” rehabilitation projects.
Understanding the process of risk reduction re-
quires pilot projects, a focus upon data collection
and capacity building needs, and learning. As stat-
ed in the SEE Desk Assessment:
“Pursuant to activities of the type listed above, it is
considered that pilot projects in risk reduction that
target specific sites in a number of countries have
the potential to provide significant tangible ben-
efit. While work towards the amelioration of risks
at individual sites is likely to yield environmental,
social, developmental and regional security ben-
efit, the prime benefit of any pilot activity should
sought in the area of learning for future work. For
example, the desk study indicates that better un-
derstanding in many areas is required. Examples
of such areas are:
the challenges facing transboundary working
groups (inter alia: cross border movement,
geographical jurisdiction, sharing and com-
patibility of data, accountability, funding of
activities, and so forth and so on);
the manner in which gaps in legislative
frameworks affect management of sites;
how lack of institutional capacity limit
progress with the management of trans-
boundary risks;
how general resource deficiencies (finance,
equipment, technical capacity and so forth)
place restraints on execution of works;
pathways for stakeholder consultation that
function best;
models for industry/community cooperation
that function best;
technical knowledge gaps that prove most
critical for success;
models for financing risk amelioration;
The scoping of any pilot projects within the region
should take place pursuant to activities focused
upon data collection and capacity building needs.
Proposals to undertake such projects, and the de-
termination of the specific objectives of any such
projects can only take place if the desire to under-
take such is expressed by representatives of the af-
fected countries”.
xvi MINING FOR CLOSURE
MINING FOR CLOSURE xvii
Environment, security and Mining for Closure
Introduction
ENVSEC and Mining in South Eastern Europe
Why is this document required?
Challenges identified in previous UNEP studies
An agenda for this document
The rationale for working towards “Mining for Closure”
The opportunities associated with best environmental practice mining
Investment in best mining practice
Key external drivers for best environmental practice mining
Real or perceived financial barriers
Mining stakeholders
Who and what are mining stakeholders?
Stakeholders & the potential use of this document
Closure and abandonment of mines
Why do mines cease activity and how does this affect closure?
A special problem with “orphaned sites”
Why are mine sites abandoned?
Common expectations and emergent best environmental practice
Mining for closure in SEE/TRB
Meeting challenges for economies in transition
Examples for innovative thinking
Improving mining frameworks in SEE/TRB
Orphaned and abandoned sites
Operational sites
New mining resources and new re-mining projects
Fostering institutional frameworks
Mine closure policies in general
The way forward
Glossary of Mining/Environment Terminology
Bibliography
Appendix A – Cluj Declaration
Appendix B – Key European Union information resources
Appendix C – The Equator Principles
Appendix D – Governance Principles for FDI in Hazardous Activities
1
1.1
1.2
1.3
1.4
1.5
2
2.1
2.2
2.3
2.4
3
3.1
3.2
4
4.1
4.2
4.3
4.4
5
5.1
5.2
6
6.1
6.2
6.3
6.4
6.5
6.6
1
1
8
9
9
11
13
17
17
21
29
31
32
35
37
37
39
44
45
50
52
57
63
64
66
70
71
75
76
80
83
89
91
92
94
table of contents
xviii MINING FOR CLOSURE
MINING FOR CLOSURE 1
This document aims to present a basis for action
within South Eastern Europe (SEE) and within the
Tisza River Basin (TRB) towards the development
of corporate practice, regulatory frameworks, gov-
ernance guidelines and/or financial and insurance
markets suitable for the support of a modern min-
ing industry. In particular, this document wishes
to present a number of options and ideas that can
be applied to address the funding and execution
of mine closure and mine rehabilitation while still
achieving conditions suitable for new and ongoing
mining activities.
It is perceived by the Environment and Security
(ENVSEC) Initiative partners that the efforts by in-
ternational bodies to address this issue and provide
guidance to national and international institutions
in their role as stakeholders in mining activities re-
main insufficient. This important deficiency in in-
ternational action has serious implications for the
SEE/TRB region.
As part of this process the draft document was
launched at the Sub-regional Conference on “Reduc-
ing Environment and Security Risks from Mining
in South Eastern Europe and the Tisza River Basin
(TRB)” conducted in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, 11-14
May 2005.
The sub-regional conference drew high-level par-
ticipation of Mr. Klaus Toepfer, UNEP Executive
Director, Mrs. Sulfina Barbu, Minister of Environ-
ment and Water Management of Romania, and
Mr. Miklos Persanyi, Minister of Environment and
Water of Hungary. It was attended by representa-
tives from a range of countries and jurisdictions
including: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bul-
garia, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedo-
nia, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro and Kosovo
(territory under UN administration), Romania, the
Slovak Republic, and Hungary.
The objective of the Conference was to draw up
an action programme to reduce environment and
security risks from mining in the region, includ-
ing further assessment and pilot projects at high-
risk sites, and endorse guidelines for sustainable
mining and closure of mines. The event concluded
with the signing of Declaration of the High-Level
Panel of the Sub-regional Conference included as
Appendix A to this report.
The declaration welcomes the Environment and
Security Desk Assessment Study “Reducing Envi-
ronment and Security Risks from Mining in South
Eastern Europe” (Peck, 2004) and the UNEP report
“Environmental Assessment of the Tisza River Basin”
(Burnod-Requia, 2004) as a basis for priority set-
ting and action planning towards reducing and
mitigating the environmental, health and security
risks from mining in South Eastern Europe and
the Tisza River Basin. Further, it welcomes and en-
dorses this document – the Environment and Se-
curity report “Mining for Closure: policies, practices
and guidelines for sustainable mining and closure of
mines in South Eastern Europe and the Tisza River
Basin – as a guide and checklist for reducing and
mitigating the environmental, health and security
risks from mining practices.
This document has the following form: Section
1 of this document seeks to outline the challenge
and the need for this work; Section 2 is then used
to establish the rationale for best environmental
practice in mining – or Mining for Closure as it will
be termed here; Section 3 the outlines the impor-
tant stakeholders in mining and a manner of as-
sessing their relative salience; Section 4 provides
a discussion of the mechanics of mine closure and
abandonment; Section 5 then presents a summary
framework or principles for mining in SEE/TRB
and delineates the next steps forward.
1.1 introduction
Increasing expectations for environmental pro-
tection, desires for reduced human health risks,
competition for land, and the increasing value of
the natural environment as recreational space have
led to marked improvements in regulatory require-
ments and mining practice in a number of coun-
tries. Many miners have introduced management
policies, practices and technologies that markedly
reduce the environmental harm caused by mining
(Environment Australia, 2002b; Gammon, 2002;
environment, security and mining
for closure
1.
2MINING FOR CLOSURE
Miller, 2005). When viewed in combination with
growing desires to preserve land areas as a reposi-
tory for valuable biological assets, for natural envi-
ronmental services and for aesthetic appeal, these
developments appear likely continue to drive con-
tinued improvement in mining practice.
As a part of this positive trend, mine planning,
mine closure practices and the conduct of mine op-
erations to facilitate environmentally and socially
acceptable closure have also evolved significantly in
recent years. While in the past communities often
saw that the only choice available was whether a
deposit should be mined or not, it has been clearly
shown that the manner in which a mine is planned
can have major positive influences on the magni-
tude and duration of impacts over the life of the
development and following its closure (Environ-
mental Protection Agency, 1995a, p. 2). In this
context, the title Mining for Closure5 chosen for this
document is not intended to indicate that existing
mining activities should be ceased, and future min-
ing activities curtailed significantly. To the contrary,
the mining sector is a very important contributor
to local and national economies (Nazari, 1999).
Further, the extractive industries will continue to
underpin the economies of many countries in the
future. As such, ongoing and new developments to
process and mine the mineral resources of “min-
ing nations” will be vital for many of them to pur-
sue sustainable development. In recognition of this
importance, this document is intended to help fa-
cilitate mining policy development, capacity devel-
opment and institutional development so that they
can yield a sustainable mix of social, economic,
and environmental outcomes from mining. The
key focus of this document is upon countries in
SEE/TRB, however much of the material and ideas
presented here are intended to be generic.
However, while many positive developments have
taken place, it cannot be ignored that the major
motivating factors behind improvement of exist-
ing and new mining activities are the extensive and
problematical legacies of abandoned mines and
their associated environmental and social problems
(Balkau, 2005a, 2005b; U.S. Department of Inte-
rior, 1998).6 Countless thousands of these mining
legacies exist around the world and while marked
improvements can be noted in the management of
ongoing and planned mining developments, the
“making good” of past mining sins has been far
less impressive. Relatively few of these orphaned
or abandoned mines have been restored. The min-
ing sector constitutes a very important contribu-
tor to local and national economies in Central and
Eastern Europe (CEE) and SEE/TRB. However, in
parts of these regions, the mining sector has often
been characterised by inappropriate planning, op-
erational and post-operational practices. Moreover,
such activities have taken place within inadequate
regulatory frameworks. Inadequate implementa-
tion of mine rehabilitation and closure activities
has been one outcome of note (Nazari, 1999).7 In
the focus region for this document, this has re-
sulted in and continues to cause – significant ad-
verse environmental, health and safety, social and
economic impacts and related liabilities (Burnod-
Requia, 2004; ICPDR/Zinke Environment Con-
sulting, 2000; Nazari, 1999; Peck, 2004).
In addition to these problems, the contribution that
mining can deliver to such Economies in Transi-
tion (EiT) is also compromised for other reasons. In
1999, the European Bank for Reconstruction and
Development (Nazari) reported that in many EiTs
where there are significant mining activities, the
lack of implementation of mine closure activities
has resulted and continues to result in significant
adverse environmental and health and safety im-
pacts. Such failure was normally as a result of finan-
cial constraints. It should be noted that the finan-
5. According to Gilles Tremblay, Program Manager, Special
Projects with Natural Resources Canada (personal communica-
tion: Natural Resources Canada, 2005, 2 August), “Mining for
Closure” as presented in this document is very similar to the con-
cept of ”Design for Closure” and/or “Operate for Closure” utilised
elsewhere. He indicates that the term “Design for Closure” was
actively promoted by John Gadsby, a consultant from British Co-
lumbia, Canada and he used that in a foreword to a volume on
Acid Drainage published in 1990 (Gadsby, Malick, & Day, 1990).
According to Tremblay, Canadian actors used such terminology
extensively during the 1990s and it was mostly focused on reduc-
ing the environmental liabilities at the time of closure. Further,
he reports that as part of the Seven Questions to Sustainability
Task of the North American MMSD (Mining Metals and Sustain-
able Development) Regional Process it was realized that to test
the contributions of a mining project to Sustainable Development
one should change the concept to “Design and Operate for Post-
Closure”. The mine then becomes a bridge between the pre-min-
ing and post-mining physical and human environment (for green
field projects) and served as a powerful way of looking at the con-
tributions of mining to SD.
6. It must be stressed; that the “closure” (or lack thereof ) as con-
ducted by the parties that were active at the majority of abandoned
and orphaned mines discussed within this document met the en-
vironmental requirements imposed (or not imposed) on them at
the time of mining and minerals processing activity. While we
find that there have been major improvements in the more indus-
trialized countries – such was accepted practice at that time.
7. Then Principal Environmental Specialist, European Bank for
Reconstruction & Development (EBRD)
MINING FOR CLOSURE 3
cial, environmental and social liabilities associated
with such sites also pose a barrier to development
in such jurisdictions. In contrast to countries that
have already implemented ‘good international min-
ing practices’, and despite signifi cant progress since
that time, these EiTs have yet to develop suf ciently
sophisticated corporate governance, regulatory
frameworks, or nancial and insurance markets to
adequately address mine closure rules or funding.
Among other things, Nazari (1999) indicates that
this leads to:
delays in developing projects and investments
in this sector,
potentially inequitable distribution and exter-
nalization of closure costs,
costly and time consuming tailor-made solu-
tions on a case-by-case basis, and
differentiating, and possibly creating the im-
pression of ‘penalising’ investors seeking fi -
nancing or political risk insurance through
International Financial Institutions.
Addressing the last point, it should be noted that
international fi nancial institutions typically require
consideration of closure related issues. As a result,
investors seeking fi nance from such sources may
be disadvantaged in their endeavours when com-
pared to those potential miners accessing alter-
native capital markets with more limited require-
ments relating to closure funding.
The development of corporate governance, regula-
tory frameworks, nancial and insurance markets
to address the funding of mine closure is further
complicated by involvement of some “junior inves-
tors”, who unlike many major mining companies,
have only limited resources to back up the mining
company’s obligations, and have signifi cantly less-
er sensitivity to other factors driving responsible
behaviour such as reputational risks. Such actors
are more prevalent in EiTs than in more developed
mining nations.
Despite the relevance of these issues and the press-
ing nature of the challenges, the nature of discus-
sions surrounding the advancement of mining in
the region is presently somewhat compromised. As
such, it is expected that a key outcome of this docu-
ment should be a more open and informed debate
surrounding the need for mining and the ability of
mining to serve as a valuable economic driver for
development while still maintaining or even im-
proving the environment.
1.
2.
3.
4.
Bor smelter – Serbia
Photograph by EnvSec
4MINING FOR CLOSURE
1.1.1
A number of terms are associated with mine de-
commissioning or closure depending on particular
circumstances. Due to this variation in differing
texts and jurisdictions – and due to the coining of a
new phrase within this document (Mining for Clo-
sure), a number of key terms are clarified here.
Within this document, “closure” means more than
the act or the moment of ceasing operations at a mine
site. Rather, it implies a whole of mine life process that
typically culminates in tenement relinquishment. As
such, closure is interpreted here to be complete at the
end of decommissioning and rehabilitation.8 How-
ever, and as will be explained in this document, this
does not necessarily imply the return of a site to the
state in which it existed prior to mining, nor should
it preclude that such activities are carried out while
mining is ongoing. To the contrary, ongoing reha-
bilitation of active mining sites – while mining opera-
tions are underway – is considered vital.
The term “Mining for Closure, is intended to be both
inclusive and flexible. It is intended to imply that
mining operations can take place in such a way that
“rehabilitation” has been substantially achieved at
the time of closure; that activities to deal with min-
ing legacies on a mining lease may be combined
with ongoing or proposed mining operations; that
special partnerships to deal with mining legacies
can be combined with proposed or ongoing mine
activities; that situations can be facilitated where
non-miners can form partnerships to rehabilitate
or valorise mining legacies, and so forth. Further,
it is intended that this term evolve as its content
becomes more apparent in the field.
To support these ideas, the following definitions
provided for the purpose of this report are largely
based on those presented in texts such as the Strate-
gic Framework for Mine Closure (ANZMEC MCA,
2000) and a recent Canadian report (Cal Data Ltd.,
2005)9. The reader is referred to the definitions
overleaf and Figure 1 1, which describes mine site
status as used within this document.
Active mine site – a site where mineral explora-
tion, mining or processing is ongoing with rel-
evant and proper regulatory approvals in place.
Closing mine site – a mining operation where
cessation of operations is anticipated within
less than 2 to 5 years.
Idle or Inactive mine siteall mineral sites
where minerals exploration, mining or
processing has ceased. Thus all mine sites not
considered active.
Closed mine site(generally) a former active
mining site where mineral exploration, min-
ing or processing has concluded and all cur-
rent appropriate regulatory obligations have
been satisfied. However, (specifically) within
this document, the definition of a closed mine
site will be extended to encompass best prac-
tice considerations of “Mining for Closure” as
developed throughout the document.10
Mine Closure – (generally) a whole of mine life
process that typically culminates in tenement
relinquishment (generally, after a legally bind-
ing sign-off of liability). Closure (generally) is
deemed to be complete at the end of decom-
missioning and rehabilitation and where and
all current appropriate regulatory obligations
have been satisfied. Within this document, the
definition will be extended as indicated above.
Neglected mine site – An idle or inactive site
that has not been closed and has no clear and
obvious owner but that may still be held under
some form of title and where all current ap-
propriate regulatory obligations have not been
satisfied. This definition can include sites
where regulation changes have led to closure
parameters being imposed after the site be-
came inactive.
Temporary Closure (An Idle/Inactive mine
site under Care and Maintenance) – the phase
following temporary cessation of operations
when infrastructure remains intact and the site
continues to be managed. The site is still held
under some form of title and all current appro-
priate regulatory obligations for closure have
not been satisfied. When being maintained in
some way with a view to future resumption of
8. In some definitions, the term closure does not imply any partic-
ular level of site clean-up after operations cease and the terms such
as “rehabilitation”, “restoration” and “reclamation” are used to im-
ply “post-closure” improvement of the site to a desired standard.
9. Albeit with different terminology to both reports and with ex-
tended and substantially altered definitions – particularly with re-
gards to the distinction between abandoned and orphaned mine
sites and “mine closure”.
10. With relevant limitations, arguments will be presented later
in this document, that a mine will achieve “closure” when meas-
ures have been put in place that are designed so as to ensure that:
future public health and safety are not compromised and environ-
mental resources are not subject to abnormal physical and chemi-
cal deterioration in the long term. As the intent of this document
is informative and general, legal definitions will not be sought.
key terms utilised within
this document
MINING FOR CLOSURE 5
operations, such sites are frequently referred
to as being under care and maintenance.
Abandoned mine sitean area formerly used
for mining operations (an idle/inactive site)
that is neglected and whose legal owners still
exist and can be located.
Orphaned mine siteabandoned mining op-
erations or facilities for which the responsible
party no longer exists or cannot be located.
Mine Decommissioning – the process that be-
gins near, or at, the cessation of mineral pro-
duction. This term is often used interchange-
ably with Mine Closure but here refers to a
transition period and activities between cessa-
tion of operations and final closure.11
Rehabilitation (Reclamation) – the return of the
disturbed land to a stable, productive and/or self-
sustaining condition, taking into account bene-
ficial uses of the site and surrounding land.
Progressive Rehabilitation – A process refer-
ring to the ongoing rehabilitation of mine sites
and mineral related facilities during the opera-
tional life of a facility. Progressive rehabilitation
may include works such as re-vegetation of ar-
eas disturbed during project development and
operations, re-vegetation of abandoned or filled
mine waste areas including tailings impound-
ment areas; removal and/or disposal of any
obsolete structures and materials as per a final
rehabilitation and closure plan; backfilling of
approved underground or surface excavations
using mill tailings to reduce tailings impound-
ment areas; methods to reduce or eliminate
soil erosion and stabilization of the site which
will facilitate re-vegetation and reclamation;
placement of waste rock in the underground
workings or open pits, or by covering the waste
rock with till or topsoil and then re-vegetating
in an acceptable manner, and so forth.
Mining legacy(orphaned mines) abandoned
mining operations or facilities for which a re-
sponsible party no longer exists or cannot be lo-
cated. The term mining legacies can often refer
to a very much older site, where minerals op-
erations have ceased decades, or even centuries
ago. For reasons of its generality in the litera-
ture, this term is used loosely in this report.12
Figure 1.1 Mineral site status diagram for this docu-
ment13
Another very important term and concept utilised
in this document is “best practice environmental
management in mining. In general, the usage of
this term (and the shorter term “best environmental
practice mining”) is intended to capture the man-
agement ethos portrayed in a series of more than
twenty booklets published by the Australian Gov-
ernment’s Department of Environment and Herit-
age. Each booklet seeks to describe best practice for
a particular key aspect of environmental (and in-
deed, social) management as applied by Australia’s
11. The concept of mine closure is an issue by itself. However, an
in-depth analysis is not within the scope of this report. For a more
complete analysis of the concept of mine closure see Mudder, Ter-
ry and Kevin Harvey, Closure Concepts. Mineral Resources forum,
UNEP, 1999. “There are many different words used to describe
closure including decommissioning, reclamation, rehabilitation,
and post-closure. In this paper, decommissioning is referred to as
the transitional period between cessation of operations and final
closure. Reclamation refers to the physical aspects of earth mov-
ing, regarding and revegetation. Rehabilitation is another word for
closure used primarily in countries other than the United States.
Closure is a term reserved for the point in time at which revegeta-
tion has been completed, excess solutions have been eliminated to
the extent practical, the maximum degree of passive management
has been implemented, and a final surface and/or ground water
monitoring programme has been initiated.”
12. In many instances throughout the literature, the term “legacy
site” is used somewhat interchangeable with “orphan site” and
even with “abandoned site”. Universally, its usage is also applied
in the general sense (such as “legacies of the past” and “legacies of
mining”). In the Caldata report cited above, “legacy” has been rede-
fined as an equivalent to “abandoned” for this report. For reasons
of the general application of the word “legacy”, that definition will
be avoided. In essence within this discussion, a legacy site is an or-
phan site, but the term can also encompass a site where regulatory
obligations (if they ever existed) for site reclamation were fulfilled
at the time of activity cessation (and thus where the tenement has
been relinquished and liability – if it ever existed – extinguished)
but where whatever reclamation performed was insufficient to
render the site “closed” as termed in this document (and as devel-
oped throughout this document).
13. Question marks (?) in this diagram indicate that the actual path-
way to be followed is unknown, or can be influenced.
Mine site
Orphan/LegacyAbandoned
Active
Idle/inactive
Care &
maintenanceNeglected
Closed
?
?
?
?
?
6MINING FOR CLOSURE
leading environmental managers in mining. These
booklets have been available electronically and in
hard copy and from 1995 to 2000 have been dis-
tributed to over sixty countries around the world.
An important component of best practice is the
ability to be flexible in devising solutions which
match site-specific needs in terms of the types of
mining operation, climate, topography, the sensi-
tivity of the surrounding environment, and social
requirements, which deliver outcomes consistent
with sustainable development principles and objec-
tives (Environmental Protection Agency, 1995b).
Best practice environmental management in min-
ing focuses on the principles of environment im-
pact assessment and environmental management.
The booklets use case studies to demonstrate how
these principles can be integrated through all phas-
es of resource development from pre-exploration
planning, through construction, operation, closure
and post-mining monitoring and maintenance.
The resources developed by the Best Practice Envi-
ronmental Management in Mining programme are
available free of charge on the Internet.14
Finally in this introduction of important terms,
a very limited set of terms describing important
physical parameters of mining and environment
are provided. These parameters are referred to ex-
plicitly and implicitly throughout this entire docu-
ment. Key reference sources utilised in the genera-
tion of this document and/or considered important
resources for actors wishing to pursue the topic
further are also included here.
Acid Drainage – Also commonly referred to as
Acidic Drainage, Acid Mine Drainage (AMD)
or Acid Rock Drainage (ARD). Acid drainage
arises from the oxidation of sulphide miner-
als and often occurs when such minerals are
exposed to the atmosphere by excavation. Inci-
dent rainfall or surface water is acidified when
acid-forming compounds dissolve. Effects in-
clude acid drainage from waste rock stockpiles
and tailings, development of acid conditions in
exposed surface materials, increased solubility
and or release of metals, and increased salinity
or solute loads in waters.
Tailings Residue from metallurgical process-
ing (process wastes), mainly comprising finely
ground rock. When ore bodies are extracted the
valuable mineral is surrounded by gangue (un-
economic material) that needs to be separated
in a concentrating process. Crushing and grind-
ing methods are used to reduce the mined ore
to sand and silt sizes, and then the concentrat-
ing process for the valuable minerals can begin.
Tailings contain residual target minerals and
also often contain process chemical residues.
Tailings dams – Engineered holding and stor-
age areas for process wastes (tailings), also re-
ferred to as Tailings Storage Facilities, Process
Waste Storage Facilities, Tailings Management
Areas (TMAs), Tailings Retention Systems and
more. Tailings dams are similar to convention-
al water dams in that they are designed to be a
retaining structure. However, a tailings dam is
designed to retain water and solids, whereas a
conventional dam retains only water.
Surplus Rock or Waste Rock – Rock that must
be extracted to reach economic ore but does
not contain significant commercial miner-
alization. While not as highly mineralized as
target ore, such rock can also contain metals
and sulphide minerals that contribute to the
environmental problems listed above.
Among the many potential or actual environmental
impacts related to mining and minerals process-
ing mentioned or discussed in this document, the
topic of acidic drainage is of particular importance
– particularly because of the considerable liabilities
associated with this phenomena. In the SEE/TRB
context, acidic drainage is a priority due to its dem-
onstrated potential for trans-boundary pollution in
the region (Peck, 2004), the potential ultra-longevi-
ty of its impacts, and its widespread prevalence. The
general manner in which it is perceived that these
terms should be interpreted, how such matters
should be approached, and some important sup-
porting information resources are also very briefly
14. They include a series of booklets, a series of checklists designed
to provide guidance to regulators and industrial actors and the
joint Environment Australia/UNEP Best Practice Environmental
Management in Mining Training Kit. The Training Kit is designed
to help trainers plan and deliver effective training aimed at improv-
ing the environmental performance of minerals operations. The
different volumes in the Kit give extensive references to further
information, including that which is available from the Sustain-
able Minerals series e-booklets. Environment Australia developed
this training kit in conjunction with the United Nations Environ-
ment Programme (UNEP), to move the Sustainable Minerals pro-
gramme into a new phase. It assists trainers in developing training
sessions based on the Sustainable Minerals booklets and provides
presentation slides, notes, a selection of case studies and work-
sheets. UNEP has sought to ensure the kit’s international focus,
particularly in promoting awareness of Sustainable Minerals tech-
niques in developing countries. See http://www.deh.gov.au/in-
dustry/industry-performance/minerals/training-kits/index.html.
MINING FOR CLOSURE 7
introduced here (as Best Practice Environmental
Management was in the preceding text section).
In this instance a huge body of work has been per-
formed internationally. As one prominent example,
the Canadian MEND programme and its techni-
cal literature outputs are highlighted as a source of
prominence.15 In response to the projected high li-
abilities facing the Canadian mining industry from
acidic drainage from the oxidation of sulphide min-
erals,16 the Canadian mining industry, the Canadian
federal government and eight provincial govern-
ments joined forces in 1989 to form the Mine En-
vironment Neutral Drainage (MEND) programme.17
Acidic drainage is recognized as the largest environ-
mental liability facing the mining industry and, to a
lesser extent, the public through abandoned mines.
MEND was implemented to develop and apply new
technologies to prevent and control acidic drainage
and tremendous progress has been made. The target
is for new mines to open without long-term concerns
about acidic drainage upon closure. The MEND
manual in particular, summarizes the work complet-
ed by MEND in a format that provides practitioners
in Canadian industry and government – and in other
interested jurisdictions – with a manageable single
reference document. The document is not a “How
to” manual. It is a set of comprehensive working ref-
erences for the sampling and analyses, prediction,
prevention, control, treatment and monitoring of
acidic drainage. The document provides information
on chemistry, engineering, economics, case studies
and scientifi c data for mine and mill operators, engi-
neering design and environmental staff, consulting
engineers, universities and governments.
Explanations and defi nitions for other terms uti-
lized within the mining and minerals industry that
are also utilized within this report or its references,
are included at the end of this document.
15. MEND has over 200 technical documents available. Techni-
cal reports published under the auspices of MEND are available
both in electronic and print formats - see http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/
mms/canmet-mtb/mmsl-lmsm/mend/mendpubs-e.htm
16. In 1999, this phenomena was recognized as the largest envi-
ronmental liability, estimated to be between $2 billion and $5 bil-
lion, facing the Canadian mining industry (Tremblay, 1999).
17. See http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/mms/canmet-mtb/mmsl-lmsm/
rnet/indart-e.htm and http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/mms/canmet-
mtb/mmsl-lmsm/mend/default_e.htm
Tributary bearing acidic effl uent contaminated
with heavy metals – Abrud River, Romania
Photograph by Philip Peck
8MINING FOR CLOSURE
1.2
Environment and Security (ENVSEC) is an Initia-
tive of three organizations – the United Nations En-
vironment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations
Development Programme (UNDP), and the Or-
ganization for Security and Co-operation in Europe
(OSCE). The North Atlantic Treaty Organization
(NATO) is an associate partner in the Initiative.
The Initiative is aimed to provide a framework for
co-operation on environmental issues across bor-
ders and promoting peace and stability through
environmental co-operation and sustainable de-
velopment. The Initiative focused on the three pi-
lot regions: Central Asia, the Caucasus and South
Eastern Europe/Tisza River Basin.
The Initiative is structured in three distinct but
interlinked pillars, dealing with: vulnerability as-
sessment and monitoring; capacity building and
institutional development; and policy development
and implementation.
After the launching of the Initiative at the Kiev “En-
vironment for Europe” Ministerial Conference in
May 2003, and preparation of the regional report
on environment and security priorities in SEE/
TRB, the ENVSEC Partners, in consultations with
the countries in the region, have developed the fol-
lowing priority fields of action:
Managing and reducing trans-boundary risks
of hazardous activities.
Management of trans-boundary natural re-
sources.
Crosscutting issues (awareness, information,
education, etc.).
The identified fields of action, including project
proposals, were presented at and confirmed by “the
ENVSEC Consultations on SEE”, held in Skopje, the
Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on 23 -24
September 2004. A rapid Environmental Assess-
ment of the Tisza River Basin was presented to the
International Commission for the Protection of the
Danube River in December 2004. These topics were
again confirmed at the Sub-regional Conference on
“Reducing Environment and Security Risks from Min-
ing in South Eastern Europe and the Tisza River Basin
(TRB)” conducted in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, 11-14
May 2005 where the full drafts of both this docu-
envsec and mining
in south eastern
europe
ment, the desk assessment of security risks posed by
mining Reducing Environment & Security Risks from
Mining in South Eastern Europe (Peck, 2004), and
the final version of the UNEP Rapid Environmental
Assessment of the Tisza River Basin (Burnod-Requia,
2004) were also presented.
Within the ENVSEC initiative, South-Eastern Europe
covers Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria,
Croatia, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedo-
nia, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro and Kosovo
(territory under UN administration). The Tisza Riv-
er Basin includes Romania, Ukraine, Slovak Repub-
lic, Hungary, and Serbia and Montenegro. The past
decade of war, conflict and transition has left the re-
gion with a legacy of inadequate growth, declining
living standards and high environmental stress. The
region is significantly affected by heavy industrial
pollution in urban-industrial areas, intensive agri-
culture with yet uncalculated health impacts, a lack
of water technology and infrastructure, and indus-
trial pollution from the resources and mining sector.
Shared resources such as transboundary lakes and
rivers as well as biodiversity (e.g. in the Carpathian
mountains with a particular focus on the TRB) pose
both a challenge and opportunity for cooperation.
There is growing understanding that environ-
mental degradation, inequitable access to critical
natural resources and transboundary movement
of hazardous materials increase tensions between
nation-states and thereby pose a risk to human and
even national security. For example transboundary
pollution often affects negatively the relations be-
tween neighbouring states. Also health risks and
involuntary migration due to water scarcity, uncon-
trolled stocks of obsolete pesticides or other forms
of hazardous waste have been identified as threats
to stability and peace.
Ongoing disputes and disagreements over the
management of natural resources shared by two or
more states, can deepen divides and lead to hostili-
ties. However, common problems regarding the use
of natural resources can also bring people together
in a positive way. Communities and different na-
tions can build confidence with each other through
joint efforts to improve the state and management
of nature. Environmental co-operation can thereby
act as an important means for preventing conflicts
and promoting peace between communities.
ENVSEC consultations in Belgrade in 2002 led to a
first assessment of environment and security inter-
MINING FOR CLOSURE 9
actions. This was continued with a regional meet-
ing in Skopje in 2004 where priorities were con-
firmed and further work suggested. This included
the assessment of regional cross-border risks from
mining and industry, improved management of
common river basins (e.g. Tisza, & Sava), and the
promotion of nature conservation as a tool to en-
courage regional cooperation.
Current or planned activities include rehabilitation
of most prominent hot-spots (e.g. a feasibility study
for closing the Lojane mine in FYR Macedonia)
and fostering cooperation in the Tisza and Prespa
international basins. Further, and as has been men-
tioned, a desk assessment of security risks posed
by mining, particularly by residual mining wastes
and pollution, was performed during 2004.
Among the outstanding environmental, social and
economic challenges confronting the mining indus-
try and affected communities – that of abandoned
and orphaned mine sites18 has been particularly
slow to be tackled. The potential costs of rehabilita-
tion on a wide scale, the lack of clearly assigned (or
assumed) responsibility, the absence of criteria and
standards for rehabilitation, as well as other factors,
have delayed action by both the industry and by
public authorities. Further, (as has been intimated)
that the efforts by international bodies to address
this issue and provide guidance to national and in-
ternational institutions in their role as stakeholders
in mining activities remain insufficient. This im-
portant deficiency in international action has seri-
ous implications for the SEE/TRB region.
1.3
The ENVSEC Initiative seeks to facilitate a proc-
ess whereby key public decision-makers in South
Eastern and Eastern Europe, Central Asia and Cau-
casus are able to motivate action to advance and
protect peace and the environment. In the context
of this ENVSEC project, this should occur via the
collaborative articulation and adoption of policies,
practices and guidelines for sustainable mining
practices, Mining for Closure, and closure of mines
so as to aid the reduction of environment and secu-
rity risks in SEE/TRB.
This document has the aim:
to support the articulation and adoption of policies,
practices and guidelines for sustainable mining
practices, Mining for Closure and closure of mines
for the reduction environment and security risks in
South Eastern Europe.
This document has the objectives:
to present principles, ideas and guidelines for
mining policy development, capacity develop-
ment and institutional development that can
yield a sustainable mix of social, economic,
and environmental outcomes in the SEE/TRB
region with key foci being:
operation of existing and new mining op-
erations in order to ensure and facilitate
cost-effective closure that fulfils accept-
able sustainability requirements;
re-mining or otherwise valorising aban-
doned or orphaned sites in order to make
safe and/or remediate and close them
(including finding other uses/economic
value from sites);
closure, making safe and/or remediation
of abandoned or orphaned sites;
to support the ongoing assessment of trans-
boundary environmental and human safety
risks posed by sub-standard mining operations
– both active and abandoned; implementation
of risk reduction measures through demon-
stration at selected sites, evaluation and testing
of possible policy changes and transboundary
cooperation mechanisms.
1.4
As will be demonstrated throughout this docu-
ment, a large number of mining related studies as
produced by a large range of social actors from
Government to community interest groups – have
underlined the importance of managing a plethora
of environmental, social and developmental chal-
lenges related to mining activities. Mining legacies
18. Within this document, abandoned mines are deemed to be
those where rehabilitation is incomplete but whose legal owners
still exist. Orphaned sites, on the other hand, refer to abandoned
mines for which the responsible party no longer exists or cannot
be located while idle mining assets refer to abandoned mines that
are currently under some form of care and maintenance.
19. At the time of writing, the draft desk-assessment report, titled
Reducing Environment & Security Risks from Mining in South Eastern
Europe: Desk-assessment study for the Environment and Security Ini-
tiative Project and The Rapid Environmental Assessment of the Tisza
River Basin is are available via the Environment and Security inita-
tive’s web portal at www.envsec.org.
why is this document
required?
challenges identi-
fied in previous
unep studies19
1.
2.
10 MINING FOR CLOSURE
are clearly identifi ed as a key issue within this topic.
The ENVSEC initiative has also been active on this
front and this short section relates to that work.
A desk assessment of security risks posed by min-
ing, and particularly those associated with pollution
from residual mining wastes Reducing Environment
& Security Risks from Mining in South Eastern Europe
(Peck, 2004) and the UNEP Rapid Environmental
Assessment of the Tisza River Basin (Burnod-Requia,
2004)20 both generated during 2004, showed
clearly that there are a large number of mineral re-
source related sites that are of high hazard in the
SEE/TRB area. Further, evidence was found that
many have signifi cant risks associated with them
that threaten the environment, public health and
safety, and/or regional socio-political stability in
the SEE/TRB countries addressed by the studies.21
Moreover, it was found that mining and minerals
processing operations addressed in the study can
affect (and are affecting) the surrounding environ-
ment and communities via:
airborne transport of pollutants such as dust,
smelter emissions, gases, vapours;
mass movement of “solid” wastes (generally
tailings containing heavy metals and toxic
compounds);
mass movement of liquid, or semi-liquid
wastes (again, generally tailings containing
heavy metals and toxic compounds);
waterborne transport of wastes as suspended
solids and as dissolved materials.
Among the sites and operations examined in the
study, it was clear that the dominant pathway of ex-
posure – at all levels of interest – is via waterways
(fl uvial transport) and that the dominant hazards
were posed by large tailings impoundments. While
airborne toxic emissions from smelters transport-
ed in the atmosphere have been a very signifi cant
issue in the past, the regional and transboundary
importance of airborne emissions appear to have
generally reduced in importance.22
The overriding importance of uvial transport
mechanisms for tailings wastes in transboundary
pollution risks bears several implications with it.
To name but a few – very large volumes of mate-
rials can be involved with catastrophic damage to
downstream land, property and ecosystems associ-
ated with the physical impacts of such accidents;
biochemical, and eco-toxicological effects of these
pollutants can be catastrophic and can extend far
beyond the zone physically affected by such mate-
rials; the physical and biochemical, and eco-toxico-
logical effects can be very long term.
20. Also building upon an important earlier report from the In-
ternational Commission for the Protection of the Danube River
(ICPDR/Zinke Environment Consulting, 2000).
21. Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Kosovo (Territory under UN
interim administration), Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro.
22. Although sites such as RTB Bor in Serbia and a range of others are
still operational, a number of smelter operations have ceased opera-
tions, or are closed until such time that acceptable levels of emission
can be achieved through upgrading of plant, or have undergone sig-
nifi cant emissions control upgrading pursuant to foreign investment.
Unconfi ned concentrator waste stockpile adjacent
to urban area – Baia Mare, Romania
Photograph by Philip Peck
MINING FOR CLOSURE 11
1.5
At the outset it is reiterated that a fundamental
point of departure for this document is the view
that ongoing mining activities are vital to sustain-
able development and environmental protection
in the SEE/TRB in general. This is a view shared
in varying degrees by development agencies such
as the World Bank Group (Onorato et al., 1997;
Strongman, 2000) and federations of environmen-
tal groups such as the European Environmental
Bureau (European Environmental Bureau, 2000).
As such, a simplistic statement might be that this
document seeks to fill an important gap as an apo-
litical “back to mining” guide.
Further, this document will seek to address key
need areas to support the “next steps forward” at
both local (national) scale and in a transboundary
and regional perspective that were presented with-
in the Desk-assessment study for the Environment
and Security Initiative Project generated in 2004
(Peck, 2004) and some of the key items within the
Rapid Assessment report (Burnod-Requia, 2004).
It must seek to provide information and guidance
for regional decision makers on how they can move
policy instruments (measures) forward in the key
influential areas listed in the previous section.
In order to clarify what is meant by policy instru-
ments in this regard, excerpts are supplied in Box
1 after Lindhqvist (2000, p. 41) who divides policy
instruments into three different groups.
In addition to the above, prevailing social norms
or imperatives also contribute to the achievement
of policy related goals. Such norms describe the
overall values a society has or the way a society usu-
ally acts. Individuals or groups in the society are
expected to behave according to the prevailing im-
peratives (DiMaggio and Powell, 1983:152). Social
norms can be described as a condition rather than
a policy instrument in this context but it is held that
policy interventions can influence norms and vice
versa.
Thus, within this document it is sought to aid the
development of inter alia:
legal and/or regulatory frameworks for key min-
ing actors (coercive regulatory instruments);
utilitarian measures designed to provide mate-
rial incentives for improved performance;
measures intended to supply or enhance ca-
pacity within the mining sector and the regu-
latory frameworks that enfold it;
manners in which the norms (accepted and
anticipated behaviours) of industrial, regulato-
ry and social actors can be influenced in order
to promote improved mining performance.
The brief work agenda presented in this docu-
ment is principally drawn from the Desk Study
(Peck, 2004) and from the Tisza Rapid assessment
(Burnod-Requia, 2004). It is intended that this doc-
ument provide a basis or direction – for action
among regional decision-makers, policy makers,
and leading industrial actors in four key areas.
Action area 1: risk reduction at abandoned or or-
phaned sites actions among regional actors that
can facilitate the reduction of the very significant
risks associated with non-operational, abandoned
and/or orphaned sites where large quantities of
physically and chemically unstable, and/or poorly
contained mine wastes are stored. In particular the
most significant risks are related to the mass re-
lease of tailings wastes to waterways and the ongo-
ing generation of acidic, metals bearing effluents
from such sites affecting both surface waters and
groundwater.
Action area 2: risk reduction at operational sites
– actions that can facilitate the reduction of the very
an agenda for this
document
Box 1 Policy Instruments
The first group are so-called regulative or coer-
cive instruments. Here, a policy goal is achieved
through a legislative framework set by government.
Such frameworks specify what various actors are
allowed to do or not to do. Further, they specify
how certain activities should be conducted.
A second group called economic or utilitarian
instruments intend to have a steering effect to-
wards a planned goal. Through giving incentives
(both in financial or non-financial terms) aiming
at certain activities it becomes advantageous to
adopt certain (desirable) behaviour.
The third group are so-called informative instru-
ments. The provision of information through
awareness raising campaigns or education aims to
combat lacks of information and thus enable peo-
ple to act in a certain (more rational) manners.
12 MINING FOR CLOSURE
signifi cant risks associated at sites of mining or
minerals processing that are operational via capac-
ity building for existing economic actors and indus-
trial activities. A key part of this will be the develop-
ment of an effective and effi cient approach to the
funding of closure that enables mine rehabilitation
and other environmental, social or economic objec-
tives to be achieved, and also facilitates and encour-
ages industry to comply with the requirements of
Government and the community.
Action area 3: development of new resources
and re-mining aligned with sustainable develop-
ment actions that can stimulate development
of institutional capacity, a culture of risk control,
and markedly improved operational procedures
throughout the region to create a norm of mine
planning that encompasses mine closure plans as
an integral part of a project life cycle. These shall
be designed so as to ensure that: future public
health and safety are not compromised; environ-
mental resources are not subject to physical and
chemical deterioration; the after-use of the site is
benefi cial and sustainable in the long term; any
adverse socio-economic impacts are minimized;
and to ensure that socio-economic benefi ts are
maximized.
Action area 4: fostering of institutional frameworks
for abandoned or orphaned site management and
sustainable mining and minerals processing prac-
tice – further development of legislative frame-
works addressing mining and minerals processing
legacies; clear accountability (and jurisdictional
remit) for the environmental, social and economic
aspects of mining and minerals processing activi-
ties in the region; and the further development of
institutions supporting transboundary risk man-
agement and/or disaster response.
As such, and as previously indicated, this document
is intended to support “back to mining” initiatives.
It will do so via the provision of basic ingredients or
principles for the future generation of guidelines for
mining within the SEE/TRB region and TRB. The
actors that this document addresses and the general
manner of intended application are detailed in Sec-
tion 3. Prior to that material however, the next sec-
tion will outline why actors such as the international
mining community, national mining jurisdictions
in leading mining nations, inter-governmental en-
vironmental bodies and international development
agencies consider Mining for Closure and the issue of
abandoned or orphaned sites to be so important to
sustainable development around the world.
Tailings contaminated stream after tailings release
– Macedonia
Photograph by UNDP, Macedonia
MINING FOR CLOSURE 13
As stated in Section 1.3, this document seeks to ad-
dress three distinct components of the interaction
between mining, the environment and society in
SEE/TRB. Similar to other mining related initiatives
(c.f. ANZMEC MCA, 2000 for instance) it address-
es the operation of existing and new mining opera-
tions. However, as distinct from such initiatives,
“Mining for Closure in this document is intended to
encompass the stimulation and the creation of new
and innovative frameworks to support the re-mining
or otherwise valorising of abandoned or orphaned
sites and the closure and making safe of such sites.
This document is intended to build on calls for
such frameworks (see for example, Post Mining Al-
liance, 2005), and existing governmental advances
in practice in some jurisdictions (see for example,
Gammon, 2002).
Clark et al. (2000) summarises the challenge of a
process he terms integrated mine closure as follows:
Comprehensive mine closure for abandoned mines,
presently operating mines, and future mines remains
a major challenge for virtually every mining nation
in the world. To accommodate the need to close
abandoned mines and to ensure that existing and
future mines are appropriately closed will require the
cooperation of a diverse stakeholder community, new
and innovative methods of financing closure and
major policy and legislative change in most nations
to ensure post-mining sustainable development.
Mining for closure requires recognition that min-
ing is a temporary use of land, but that the nature
of potential impacts can be exceedingly long term.
Further, such impacts can negatively affect a wide
range of stakeholders and economic development
in addition to the ecological environment. Mining
for Closure is a sustainability issue – not just an en-
vironmental issue.
As Robertson, Shaw and others (1998; 1998) note, the
interest of a mining organization in the land generally
terminates with the implementation of a closure plan
– a closure plan that is generally focussed upon items
such as optimized resource extraction, achievement
of regulated environmental objectives and cessation
of ongoing liabilities23 (Laurence, 2003) as quickly as
possible and at as low a cost as possible. As such, a
mining organization often has, and traditionally has
had, a short term planning perspective – a view that
is significantly misaligned with the temporal aspects
of potential impacts (Strongman, 2000; van Zyl et
al., 2002a). The same may even be true of regulatory
bodies (Smith & Underwood, 2000).
The objectives of present-day mining industries
with regard to mine closure are often similar to
those of the regulatory authorities. Owners and
operators wish to eliminate future liabilities as far
as possible to obtain a release from planning and
discharge licence conditions or bonds and to give
them the freedom to dispose of their sites at the ap-
propriate time (Smith & Underwood, 2000).
This contrasts markedly with the interests of the
succeeding custodian(s) and associated stakehold-
ers. These actors are (or should be) far more focused
upon the continued sustainable use of the land
(Strongman, 2000). In current frameworks, such
custodial interest generally only commences when
a closure plan is completed (Robertson, 1998).
In the past, communities often saw that the only
choice available was whether a deposit should be
mined or not. However, it has been shown that the
manner in which a mine is planned can have major
influences on the magnitude and duration of impacts
over the life of the development and following its clo-
sure (Environmental Protection Agency, 1995a, p. 2).
This indicates that at first glance the issue of Min-
ing for Closure may dominantly be an issue for com-
munities and their guardians to pursue. As a Mining
Adviser for the World Bank Group stated some years
ago (Strongman, 2000, emphasis added):
There is a fundamental divide between the in-
terests of mining companies and the interests of
the rationale for working towards
“mining for closure”
2.
23. As such, we are essentially discussing “walk-away” – or legally
binding sign-off of liability for the site. However, as Gilles Trem-
blay, Program Manager, Special Projects with Natural Resources
Canada indicates (personal communication: Natural Resources
Canada, 2005, 2 August)- for sites with ongoing pollution chal-
lenges such as acidic drainage – true “walk-away” conditions may
not be achievable.
14 MINING FOR CLOSURE
the communities where mining takes place. Min-
ing companies typically want to develop mines,
achieve a good return for shareholders, then leave
when production is finished – so that they can de-
velop more mines and continue to produce else-
where. Communities on the other hand want to
see wealth and income opportunities created in
their midst that will last over time ...
In line with such interest, the legacy of abandoned
mines, their associated environmental, social and
economic problems and the future development
opportunities for communities has led to an in-
creased emphasis on mine closure planning in re-
cent years (Smith & Underwood, 2000).
However, this is not an issue that has been rele-
gated by mining companies. Nor is it an issue that
lacks strategic relevance or attention within the
industry. Key actors in the industry clearly recog-
nise that the very viability of the mining industry
is challenged because of high expectations for envi-
ronmental protection, lower risk to human health,
competing land use demands, and the value of the
natural environment as recreational space, and as
the repository of valuable biological assets, natural
environmental services and aesthetic appeal (Envi-
ronment Australia, 2002b).
The Australian mining industry fully accepts the
concept and responsibility of minesite rehabilita-
tion and decommissioning (ANZMEC MCA,
2000, p. v).
The importance of such factors affecting the future
viability of the mining industry hold in SEE/TRB
as they do in countries such as Australia (cited
above), and other leading mining nations such as
Canada (Gammon, 2002; WOM Geological As-
sociates, 2000), the U.S. and more. Moreover, in
the majority of jurisdictions taken as examples in
this document, social issues and financial liabili-
ties associated with such sites are being given great
attention. Rising opposition to mining and miner-
als processing from society and increased scrutiny
and coordinated opposition from NGOs constitute
threats to the industry’s “licence to operate”. How-
ever, in a regional environment and security con-
text, the stress upon certain aspects are somewhat
different in SEE/TRB and particularly in multina-
tional watersheds such as the TRB, than they are in
these other jurisdictions. In SEE/TRB, prominent
aspects affecting factors such as tensions between
Nation-states that may result from transbound-
ary pollution and the retardation of social and eco-
nomic development are central. Here, the loss of
mining operations – or the opportunity to mine
– may constitute a major loss to the host society in
development, environment and economic spheres.
In parallel, substandard operations or mine closure
may bear with them repercussions at a much high-
er level than the mining company or the local host
community for a minerals operation (Peck, 2004).
Mining practice has evolved to reflect these con-
cerns in a number of countries and regulatory re-
quirements, and some operators have introduced
management policies and practices and have
adopted technologies that allow mining to occur
with minimum environmental harm (Smith &
Underwood, 2000). To take Canada as a promi-
nent example, Tremblay (2005) writes that the
first government regulations requiring mineral
or mine site rehabilitation were enacted in British
Columbia in 1969.24 Since then, the (Canadian)
government’s approach has been to set broad rec-
lamation objectives, and then negotiate mine-spe-
cific requirements through the review of reclama-
tion plans and issuing of permits. The philosophy
behind this approach has been that every mine is
unique and therefore, reclamation requirements
must be tailored to suit the site specifics.25 Further,
to this point and relating to the critical issue of
waterborne pollution from mine sites (including
acidic and neutral drainage issues). Tremblay (per-
sonal communication: Natural Resources Canada,
2005, 2 August) also stresses the understanding
of geochemical issues at mine sites is fundamen-
tal to the success of reclamation efforts. A better
understanding of acidic drainage as a significant
environmental issue in the past 20 years has re-
sulted in increased security for many sites in Brit-
ish Columbia and the rest of Canada.
Moreover, and very importantly in the context of
this discussion, Miller (2005) reports that a number
of jurisdictions have strengthened their legislation
in recent years, including Botswana, Canada (the
Yukon), Chile, Ghana, India, Peru, South Africa,
24. See Barazzuol & Stewart (2003) for details.
25. Tremblay reports that originally (1969), bonds to secure mine
rehabilitation were limited to a maximum of $500 per acre and
raised to $1000 per acre in 1975 (1 acre is approximately 0.4 hec-
tares). The legislative limit on the amount of security the province
could hold was removed in 1989. Since then, security levels have
been increased on many properties to reduce the possibility that
public funds may be required to reclaim a mine in case of com-
pany default.
MINING FOR CLOSURE 15
Sweden, and the United States and that this trend
will undoubtedly continue.26
Present-day attitudes to environmental protection
are increasingly represented in the development of
the concept of sustainable development, of “triple
bottom line accounting”, of cleaner production, of
life-cycle assessment to assess potential impacts, of
the precautionary principle, and of environmental
impact assessment to advise decision-makers and
the broader community on the potential negative as
well as positive outcomes of a proposed development.
All of these are relevant o the mining industry, and
extend from the pre-mine planning phase, through
construction, mining, and mine closure to post-mine
stewardship (Environment Australia, 2002b).
According to Sassoon (2000), integrated mine
planning – a term intended to capture the general
ethos of “Mining for Closure” means that to achieve
this:
... a mine closure plan should be an integral part of
a project life cycle and be designed to ensure that:
Future public health and safety are not com-
promised;27
Environmental resources are not subject to
physical and chemical deterioration;28
The after-use of the site is beneficial and sus-
tainable in the long term;
Any adverse socio-economic impacts are min-
imised; and
All socio-economic benefits are maximised.
and in Australia key minerals industry representa-
tive groups29 hold that:
Mine rehabilitation is an ongoing programme
designed to restore the physical, chemical and bio-
logical quality or potential of air, land and water
regimes disturbed by mining to a state acceptable
to the regulators and to post-mining land users.
The objective of mine closure is to prevent or mini-
mise adverse long-term environmental impacts,
and to create a self-sustaining natural ecosystem
or alternate land use based on an agreed set of ob-
jectives (ANZMEC MCA, 2000, p. v)30
However, it is clear from such instances as the 1985
Stava tailings dam failure in Trento, Italy where 268
people were killed, the tailings dam collapse at Los
Frailes in Spain in April 1998 and the Baia Mare
cyanide spill in Romania in January 2000,31 that
mining activities still pose risks of significant en-
vironmental, social and economic harm. There is a
significant need for improvements in the standard
of the environmental protection policies, manage-
ment systems and technologies applied at many
mine sites. In many settings, it is the removal of
present and significant risk (and danger) that must
have an immediate and pressing priority. In seek-
ing to ameliorate or remove such risks however, the
broader objectives of longer term sustainability
and Mining for Closureas shall be discussed in this
26. In this instance, the author is principally referring to legislative
requirements for financial assurance for closure and reclamation.
27. Generally as posed by safety hazards such as unstable tailings
impoundments, toxic waters, unsafe buildings, equipment, open
holes, and so forth. However, it must be recognised that few (if
any) items in the built or natural environment are “hazard free”.
Thus, it is reasonable to expect that assume that in all countries
there should be transparent debate and agreement on the level
of acceptable risk pertinent environmental, social and economic
aspects of mines and mining facilities post-closure. Further, the
reader is referred to definitions of risk and hazard provided in the
glossary of terms for this document.
28. The terms applied here, as drawn from Environmental Aspects
of Mine Closure produced by Sassoon (2000) and Mining for the
Future: Appendix B - Mine Closure Working Paper produced by
van Zyl, Sassoon, Fleury & Kyeyune (2002a) are generic but are
intended to bear with them the intent and limitations presented
in the source documents. Clearly the requirements for physical
and chemical stability of physical resources and achievement of
land use categories are not without bound. The reader is referred
to the source documents for such.
29. Australian and New Zealand Minerals and Energy Council
(ANZMEC) and the Australian Minerals Industry (represented by
the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA).
30. Note however, that the broadness of these positions are not
universally shared as the following comment from a South Afri-
can mining company representative demonstrates: “From the min-
ing company’s point of view, the principal actions and liabilities associ-
ated with mine closure at present are: the retrenchment of employees
and the cost of associated severance packages as well as in some cases
mitigatory funds for the retraining of retrenched employees; the reha-
bilitation of the areas disturbed by mining and associated activities in
line with statutory obligations” (Reichardt, 2002p, 2B-1).
31. To quote the European Commision (European Commission,
2003): The collapse of heaps and dams can have a serious impact on
the environment and on human health and safety. The collapse of a
heap of inert waste from a coal mine at Aberfan in Wales in 1966 was
the worst ever such accident in the UK and caused the deaths of 144
people, mainly children. As for tailings dams, at world level these have
failed at an average of 1.7 per year over the past 30 years. At Stava,
Italy, in 1985, a fluorite tailings dam failed and released 200,000 m³ of
inert tailings, killing 268 people and destroying 62 buildings. At Aznal-
cóllar, Spain, in 1998, an accident in an area close to the Doñana
Natural Park in South Andalusia released into the River Guadiamar
2 million m³ of tailings and 4 million m³ of water contaminated by
heavy metals. At Baia Mare in Romania in 2000 a tailings pond burst
releasing approximately 100,000 m³ of waste water containing up to
120 tonnes of cyanide and heavy metals into the River Lapus; this then
travelled downstream into the Rivers Somes and Tisa into Hungary
before entering the Danube. In Baia Borsa, also in Romania, 20,000
tonnes of tailings were released into the River Novat, a tributary of the
Rivers Viseu and Tisa.
16 MINING FOR CLOSURE
document, must still be keep in mind. Moreover,
many mines have been operational for long periods
of time and as van Zyl et al underline (2002a), while
mines in planning stage have maximum freedom
to address sustainable development goals during
closure and while those that are in the middle of
their operating life have signifi cant opportunities to
do so, operating mines that are close to the end of
their economic life have limited options available.
As such, there appears to be a broad consensus
among actors responsible for governance of mining,
NGOs with interest in mining, academics study-
ing mining, senior nancial institutions fi nancing
mining projects, and a body of leading miners, that
planning for closure should ideally start during the
pre-feasibility stage of a mining project. Further,
these actors hold that it is clear that successful mine
planning for closure avoids or minimises potentially
adverse environmental and social impacts over the
life of the mine and into the future by carefully con-
sidering the layout and design of the various compo-
nents of a mine. Similarly there is broad consensus
that a thorough understanding of site specifi cs, not
least the geochemistry of materials present on sites
(particularly mine wastes) is critical to success. Fur-
ther, there is agreement that the process of operat-
ing and closing mines must integrate community
expectations and concerns, governmental require-
ments, and profi tability of the mining project, while
also minimising environmental impacts.
Within this document, and within the bounds de-
ned earlier in this section, it is also held that all
this needs to be achieved so that future public health
and safety are not compromised; environmental re-
sources are not subject to (abnormal) physical and
chemical deterioration in the long term; and that the
after-use of the site is benefi cial and sustainable in
the long term.
It should be noted that in many countries, plan-
ning for closure or Mining for Closure, as we shall
call it, is a relatively new concept. Further, rapidly
changing economic conditions, particularly in
economies in transition such as those in SEE/TRB,
have led to mine closures (and/or “mothballing”)
in the absence of adequate planning (Smith & Un-
derwood, 2000).
The challenge for such countries is added to by
the fact that, while the broad consensus outlined
above exists, there is not yet “agreement” among
all actors upon what it is that actually constitutes
mine closure or integrated mining approaches. This
is especially true in developing economies and
in economies in transition. By working on these
challenges together, all stakeholders can seek to
address the adverse legacy problems and prevent
them in the future. With careful planning, a mine
can become an engine for sustainable economic
development beyond its own life (Post Mining Al-
liance, 2005).
Tailings dam failure – Los Frailes, Spain
Unknown photographer
MINING FOR CLOSURE 17
2.1
An examination of the literature enfolding min-
ing and sustainability indicates that the extractive
industries, environment and societies can not only
coexist, but can prosper together. Practitioners and
stakeholders have delineated a wide set of company
internal benefits and a wide range of positive envi-
ronmental and social externalities associated with
good mining practice. Traditionally however, good
governments have had principle accountability for
considering environmental and social externalities
while the focus of mining companies has been on
internal efficiency concerns.
On a positive note, the benefits for industry that
can be achieved through improvement of envi-
ronmental practice are many. According to the
national environmental body in Australia (Envi-
ronment Australia, 2002b) a leading mining na-
tion, the benefits to a mining organization that are
yielded by best environmental practice in mining
include:
improved access to land for mineral explora-
tion,
greater certainty of outcomes in the project ap-
plication stage,
the prevention of harmful environmental and
social impacts,
lower risk of non-compliance,
greater acceptance/less resistance from key
stakeholders (in particular local communities
and land owners),
lower financial burdens in the mine closure
and rehabilitation phases, and
lower risk of significant liabilities post-closure
It is clear that such benefits are of also of great
interest to national environmental and mining ju-
risdictions in SEE/TRB. However, in the context
of SEE/TRB, the potential benefits are somewhat
broader in scope, not least because the criticality
is greater than in countries that have highly devel-
oped institutional mechanisms for dealing with
such items. As is outlined in detail in the ENVSEC
Desk-assessment (Peck, 2004), improved mining
practice should also yield benefits in a number of
areas that may be accorded less immediate priority
in other regions. These include, inter alia:
reduction of significant and at times severe po-
litical, social, health and environmental risks
including transboundary risks associated
with orphaned, abandoned and operational