The MMG Century mine, which is the largest zinc/lead mine in Australia, began operating in 1999 and ceased mining from the open pit in July 2015, with processing completed in early 2016. Closure plans were developed from 2006, and detailed planning for closure commenced in early 2011 with the appointment of a dedicated closure planning resource. The site will continue to be managed during the active and passive closure phases to complete rehabilitation commitments and demonstrate that closure completion criteria have been achieved.
Completion of the mining/processing phase of the project provides an opportunity to reflect on successes, missed opportunities and lessons learnt with respect to planning and execution of mine closure. This paper highlights examples of success at Century and also identifies key learnings and areas for improvement in progressive closure outcomes. Specific examples examine mine planning and execution involving bulk movement of waste rock and construction of permanent waste encapsulation landforms. The paper also provides recommendations for other sites that are planning for closure.
Decisions made during the operational phase of the project life can result in a significant increase in closure liability and reduce the likelihood of achieving lease relinquishment. Likewise, it is of paramount importance to assess the consequences and thoroughly understand the risks associated with changes or deferral of closure plans, progressive rehabilitation targets and closure related key performance indicators.
Lord, M, Bitencourt, R, Crosbie, J and Defferrard, P, 2016. Closure planning lessons Learnt from the Century mine, in Proceedings International Mine Management Conference, pp 207-216 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).