World-wide affected communities, non-government organisations, scientists and the medical community are demonstrating growing interest in public health and safety issues related to the mining industry, and have high expectations on industry performance. These emerging trends demonstrate the importance that MYTCL has in developing proactive engagement strategies with employees, local communities and other stakeholders on health and safety aspects of the closure process.The future of the S&K Project operated by MYTCL is dependent on the legacy it leaves. Our reputation is affected if long-term detrimental environmental issues emerge because they have not been appropriately addressed. MYTCL recognises that we need to demonstrate today that we can effectively close the S&K Project with the support of the communities in which we operate. Mine closure is a process. It refers to the period of time when the operational stage of a mine is ending or has ended, and the final decommissioning and mine rehabilitation is being undertaken. Mine completion ultimately determines what is left behind as a benefit or legacy for future generations. The overall objective of mine completion is to prevent or minimise adverse long-term environmental, physical, social and economic impacts, and to create a stable landform suitable for some agreed subsequent land use. Since the beginning of the MICCL period of ownership, effective as of 1998, Mine Closure Planning has been in motion. These activities followed a Conceptual Closure Plan as outlined in the EMS, ECP and IMS, consisting of topsoil collection and progressive rehabilitation of key areas within the lease project areas.
MYTCL has escalated the process and adopted the standard of the operational stages of mine closure, continuing with revegetation and minor areas of rehabilitation, while land-forming for future closure commences as the initiation of progressive mine planning. It is important to indicate that the S&K Project has undergone in the past 5 years, 2012-2017, extensive expansion of the mine’s development, and the majority of closure planning has taken on the form of final closure preparations through land-forming and design for final encapsulation. Top-soil volumes collected and required for site-wide encapsulation and rehabilitation have been calculated and allocated to storage areas and facilities following international standards of storage.Sabetaung Closure with International Guidance Planned mine closure and completion is still at an early stage of development around the world and there are only a few examples of mine closure planning being applied from conception through to the end of the mine life. This is largely due to the timeframe of most mining operations and the relatively recent development of integrated mine closure planning.
MYTCL’s Mine Closure planning, quite simply understood, addresses the progressive completion of the S&K Project and follows the international guidelines and themes outlined in the Leading Practice Sustainable Development Program created by the Australian Government’s Department of Industry Tourism and Resources.
Throughout the mine’s life, closure strategies will be regularly reviewed to ensure they are appropriate, address the major issues for closure, and remain aligned to community expectations and regulatory requirements. As part of the mine’s change management system, alterations to the mine operating plan, expansions, new pits, waste dumps, or changes to the operating process will trigger a review of closure risk and review of the plan. Using the risk-based approach a review of the underlying risks to the business and closure will be undertaken on a regular basis to confirm that the controls remain adequate and the risk exposure has not materially changed since the last risk review. The collection of appropriate and accurate data through monitoring programs is critical to this process and will assist MYTCL in decision-making.
This review process provides an ideal opportunity for engagement with stakeholders through community committees and the building of relationships that develop trust and confidence in the operation. An annual review of the closure plan is standard practice for MYTCL and also the regulators as they require annual statistics on areas of disturbance, areas rehabilitated in the previous year and areas yet to be rehabilitated. The closure plan is a key reference document during this process, as it demonstrates the philosophy and strategies to be undertaken.
The level of detail reflects the complexity and the maturity of the site. MYTCL acknowledges the concept of ‘mine completion’ as the goal of mine closure. Assigned a high priority by all levels of management, the integration of the elements outlined in the Mine Closure programs and in the adoption of the Leading Practice Sustainable Handbook with day-to-day operations management will allow the S&K Project to reach a state where mining lease ownership can be relinquished and responsibility accepted by the next land user. To achieve this in an environment of increasing regulatory and stakeholder expectations will require superior outcomes developed and implemented in consultation with local stakeholders. Not only will the implementation of this concept of mine completion result in a more satisfactory social and environmental outcome, but it can also reduce the financial burden of mine closure and rehabilitation.
The mine closure plan is a living document that will be continually reviewed and revised over the mine’s life. The level of detail will vary as the mine matures and knowledge is gained on the significant issues to be addressed in the mine plan and options for dealing with them through closure.