Collaborative closure planning

A4   |   Letter

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

Emily Harris, ​Principal Consultant (Environment)  


It’s no secret that effective mine closure planning requires a multi-disciplinary approach, but integrating inputs and teams can be a challenging task. For the Pueblo Viejo project in the Dominican Republic, SRK led an extensive team of engineers and environmental specialists who collaborated on ideas and activities to design an effective closure solution at this challenging site.

Pueblo Viejo operated from the mid-1970s until 1999, when economic and technical reasons forced the operation to stop without formal closure. Following its acquisition of the project in 2009, Pueblo Viejo Dominicana Corporation (PVDC), a subsidiary of Barrick Gold, was keen to develop closure plans for both government liability areas and the new development area. These plans were needed to comply with numerous pre-existing environmental obligations, Barrick Corporate standards and international financial lender requirements.

The first step in the closure planning process was to build the right team for the job and clearly define responsibilities. Water management and geochemistry were two particularly challenging aspects of the closure scenarios due to the high rainfall and high-sulphide content of the deposit, and existing waste rock. SRK brought together groups with expertise and extensive site knowledge in these areas to contribute to a closure design that was responsive, and appropriate, to the site-specific conditions.

SRK held interactive workshops to draw together ideas from the client, project engineers and environment team on closure objectives, key closure actions and assumptions. It was critical to align these across the team so that the closure design met expectations and requirements from each stakeholder group. The breadth of experience from workshop attendees was also used to identify unknowns that could present risks to successful implementation of the closure design and define where future studies would be required.

Extensive team communication continued throughout the project to deliver a closure plan that provided defensible solutions to key environmental challenges and, importantly, was considered realistic and practical to implement by the site operations team.

Emily Harris:

SRK North America