In recent times, with the global mining industry’s focus on sustainable development there has been a significant focus on mine closure and rehabilitation performance and reporting through the development of the International Council on Mining Metals (ICMM), the Global Reporting Initiative and the Equator Principles. In addition, financial reporting obligations under International Financial Reporting Standards and the Sarbanes Oxley Act (2002) have also led to better understanding and improvements with industry closure performance, liability management and reporting.
Under these sustainable development principles and financial reporting obligations, mining companies are required to consider mine closure planning and associated cost estimates across all life cycle phases of the mine. Internal processes have been developed within mining companies to better understand their closure liabilities and obligations and likely costs and cost estimating processes are generally developed for long-term life-of-mine (asset) planning and budgeting, financial reporting for corporate balance sheet provisioning purposes, and regulator reporting for environmental bonding and financial assurances.
These days mining companies need to plan for, prepare and actually mine for closure right from the start of a project. This means that their closure and rehabilitation liabilities throughout each stage of the mine life cycle phases must be understood, planned for, managed and controlled.
So how is the industry performing? Understanding of closure liabilities is improving and reflected in liability cost estimations that are recognising the likely issues to be faced at closure, but there is a way to go to ensure that the industry doesn’t add to the increasing legacy liabilities being passed onto the wider community.
Slight, M and Lacy, H, 2016. Closure liabilities – where are
we at?, in Proceedings Life-of-Mine 2016 Conference , pp 28–30 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).