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Mine closure practice in Turkey

A4   |   Letter

SRK News | Issue 58: Mine Closure: Can closure create opportunities?

Bora Arpacioglu, Principal Consultant (Environment)

Mine closure and reclamation issues are among the more recent regulatory developments in the Turkish mining industry. Historically, these issues were not regulated adequately. Some rudimentary clauses existed in the mining and forestry codes without much practical implementation. In the late 1990’s when the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) regulation arrived, some attention was given to closing and reclaiming mining lands, but the subject’s treatment was superficial. Handling of the mine closure issues improved in the EIA studies, but the approaches were not standardised and without any specific regulations, they gave rise to inadequate practices.

The first regulation on the subject, “Reclamation of the Lands Disturbed by Mining Activities” was released on 14 December 2007 and revised in 2010, but it did not meet the needs of mine closure and reclamation and was far less effective than its contemporary regulations in other jurisdictions. There were no technical studies (e.g. acid rock drainage/metal leaching assessment etc.) to back up the plans, nor any cost estimates or financial guarantee mechanisms spelled out. With this regulation, the mining companies were required to submit a conceptual closure plan with EIA permitting studies for new or expanding projects.

However, land use and ownership types presented complications. Currently, this regulation only applies to treasury and private lands, not to forestry and agricultural lands. Forestry lands require a separate reclamation plan and agricultural lands require a separate soil protection plan. This issue becomes somewhat problematic for mining projects on different landuse types, especially those with large mining structures partially on different land uses. It makes it difficult to adopt a unified closure and reclamation approach.

In 2015 a new regulation, “Mine Waste Management Regulation,” was adopted from the European Union Directives. The regulation aims at managing mine wastes only (waste rock, tailings, depleted heap pads etc.) from operation to post-closure to prevent any damage to people and the environment. The regulation requires preparing a waste management plan to classify waste facilities, based on properly assessing waste geochemical characteristics, and risks. The original EU directive calls for arranging financial mechanisms to fund closure and reclamation activities, as well as remedying potential environmental problems. However, the financial aspects of this directive have not yet made it into the Turkish regulations. The Mine Waste Management Regulation came into force in July 2017 after two years of delay. This new regulation will require improvement in the coming years; it does not address closing and reclaiming the entire mining operations. Consequently, Turkey still lacks a unified approach to mine closure and reclamation issues.

Considering the deficiencies in the Turkish mine closure regulations, SRK provides a unified international approach to mine closure in Turkey to eliminate various risks to the mining industry. Individual closure plans meeting the specific needs of the Turkish regulators are prepared, complemented with a more comprehensive Mine Closure and Reclamation Plan covering both the Turkish and international requirements and best practices.

Bora Arpacıoglu:

SRK North America