To effectively plan for closure, we must have an end-point in mind. To undertake meaningful rehabilitation, a post-mine land use (or uses) must be known. However, it is becoming more apparent that the end-point or “goal-posts” are shifting – and may continue to do so throughout the life of a mine.
As well as being safe, stable and not causing environmental harm, post-mine land uses should always be sustainable, achievable within the given land capability, and they should involve stakeholders in their design and development.
The majority of mines in Australia, and around the World, were historically expected to return disturbed land to either native ecosystem or agriculture/forestry practices. However, examples of highly successful final land uses suggest that today’s focus on closure includes not only minimising future liability and impact but also – and importantly – a move towards the creation of economic opportunity (Murphy and Heyes, 2016).
Durbin, J, 2018. Planning for (not so) final land use, in Proceedings Life-of-Mine 2018, pp 110–112 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).