Mines are typically located in remote, inhospitable locations and movement of materials between site, processor and port are often at risk from extreme weather events. Mining companies have recorded multiple supply chain, production and logistics delays caused by climatic events. Recent analyses of extreme temperature and rainfall events (90th and 99th percentile values) for 1960 to 1985 and 1986 highlighted regionalised increases in the frequency and intensity of extremes. The trajectory of this change is likely to be maintained (IPCC, 2014) in regions where increases have occurred historically, suggesting that some parts of the industry may be faced with management challenges beyond current experience (Hodgkinson et al, 2010; Loechel, Hodgkinson and Moffat, 2012). Reliance on historical data to plan for extremes (such as scheduling production downtime to reduce impact) will become increasingly ineffective as the data become less representative of future conditions. Importantly, mine site remediation and closure management need to consider the future climate to ensure rehabilitation is sustainable under changing conditions.
Vulnerability assessments and risk-reducing adaptation will become more common as the industry reaches to secure both a mine’s longevity and the industry’s reputation as shareholders and clients become less tolerant of repeated or prolonged interruptions (Hodgkinson, Hobday and Pinkard, 2014). Climate-resilient new mines may be planned using site planning tools combined with knowledge of future climate scenarios. Scenario tools are valuable for developing a gated risk management approach to reducing climate-risk during a mine’s life, through to the rehabilitation process and for managing care and maintenance or closed mines.
Hodgkinson, J H, Crimp, S, Jin, W, Kokic, P and Grigorescu, M, 2016. Life-of-mine planning tools for a changing climate – intuitive, interrogative, iterative, in Proceedings Life-of-Mine 2016 Conference, pp 71–74 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).