Brief

Current Status of Mine Closure Readiness: Are governments prepared?

Governments and regulators have been implementing and revising mine closure policies, regulations, and guidance documents, but are those changes meeting the challenge?
By Rob Stevens on August 16, 2021

Mine closure and the post-mining transition have become increasingly important to governments, industry, and society. The number of mines anticipated to close in the coming years is increasing, and we are collectively placing more emphasis on the sustainable management of mineral resources and land use. Governments and regulators have been implementing and revising mine closure policies, regulations, and guidance documents, but are those changes meeting the challenge? Are governments ready to implement those changes as more mines close? And what are the barriers to advancing the management of the post-mining transition that is expected by a socially and environmentally concerned society?

To address these questions and others, and to follow-up on Mining Policy Framework (MPF) assessments undertaken by the Intergovernmental Forum on Mining, Minerals, Metals and Sustainable Development (IGF) that have consistently identified the post-mining transition as an area of weakness in mining governance, the IGF undertook a survey of its government members in 2019 and early 2020 to assess their readiness for mine closure. The results of this survey, combined with the 14 MPF assessments that have been completed by the IGF since 2014, show that while governments are aware of the importance of mine closure and the post-mining transition, many do not have the policies, regulations, enforcement, or capacity to manage mine closures. Given that hundreds of additional medium- and large-scale mines are likely to close in the next couple of decades and that mine closure planning should start before mining begins, it is clear that many governments need to improve their policies, guidelines, and capacities to more effectively manage mine closure and the post-mining transition.

This briefing note summarizes the results of the IGF member survey and MPF assessment findings along several mine closure themes, including closure plans, financial assurance, social closure, and records of closed or abandoned mines. This is followed by a discussion of the main challenges governments and regulators face and some steps that governments can take to advance the effective management of mine closure.

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