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Assessing viable and sustainable land use options for mine closure in Suriname

SRK was appointed by Suralco LLC, a subsidiary of Alcoa, the world’s largest miner of bauxite and refiner of alumina, to work closely with Alcoa staff in preparing an Integrated Closure Plan (ICP) for its landholdings and concessions located in the Commewijne, Marowijne and Para Districts of Suriname. The ICP included numerous phases and involved SRK specialist skills from the US, UK and South African practices.

A Decision Tree charted the overall phases of the project with decision nodes triggering adaptive management. Key tools were developed using the ICP framework process, including a Preliminary Land Use Viability Assessment Tool (PLUVAT); Reforestation Index (RI); Stakeholder Engagement Plan (SEP); and Water Quality Objectives (WQO) Criteria. The key deliverables of the ICP include preliminary and detailed closure plans designed to return the disturbed areas to productive and sustainable future use. The process allows for transparent engagement and reporting with relevant stakeholders.

The effectiveness of the process and the assessment tools are being verified at three pilot sites. The tools are designed to integrate and address legal, land use, stakeholder and technical closure issues and to develop detailed/executable closure plans.

A key component of the ICP was identifying and assessing viable and sustainable post-closure land uses. Assessing land use options is essential for engaging stakeholders and planning engineering. A PLUVAT tool was applied to systematically screen land uses based on technical, biophysical, social or economic criteria. The PLUVAT assessment considered geotechnics, geochemistry, social factors, economics, engineering and biodiversity.

Using PLUVAT, SRK identified potentially viable land uses and developed draft Conceptual Land Use Plans for each site to illustrate the spatial configuration options. Land use guidelines were developed to accompany the Plans and inform stakeholders of appropriate uses within each category, for instance suitable densities of residential development, heavy or light industry.

The Conceptual Land Use Plans were used to facilitate discussion with stakeholders and obtain government support to proceed with planning. Once completed, the final Land Use Plans will inform the detailed engineering closure designs and their implementation.

Warrick Stewart:

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