A framework for developing completion criteria for mine closure and rehabilitation
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The mining industry is a major contributor to Australia's economy. However, such returns may come at high environmental and social costs, including loss of biodiversity or heritage values. Thus, companies worldwide are required to rehabilitate mine sites to a state that is safe, non-polluting and capable of supporting an agreed post-mining land use. While national and international guidelines on mine rehabilitation and closure exist, there is a lack of guidance on how to define achievable and measurable criteria that reflect rehabilitation success. This often leads to discrepancies between proponents and regulators, which hinder progression towards mine closure and relinquishment. The purpose of this study was to develop a systematic framework for the definition of completion criteria for mine closure and rehabilitation. The study was informed by a global review of the literature and collaborative research with mining stakeholders from Western Australia. The proposed framework consists of six fundamental steps: 1) selection of post mining land use; 2) definition of aspects and closure objectives; 3) selection of reference(s); 4) selection of attributes; 5) definition of completion criteria; and 6) evaluation of performance. This framework is the first to provide a step-by-step guide for defining site-specific completion criteria and applying a risk-based monitoring approach throughout the life of mine. The framework is applicable across jurisdictions and industries, in Australia and internationally, that require similar rehabilitation of disturbed lands.
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