Does the integration of EIA and mine closure planning deliver effective Mine Closure Plans in WA?

Author(s): 
R Getty (SRK Consulting), A Morrison-Saunders (Edith Cowan University)
Date: 
Wednesday, September 4, 2019
First presented: 
Mine Closure 2019
Type: 
Published paper
Category: 
Environmental/Social

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and mine closure planning became formally integrated in Western Australia in 2011 when amendments to the Mining Act 1978 resulted in the requirement of a Mine Closure Plan (MCP) to be submitted by proponents along with their EIA documents. This procedural innovation aimed to force early consideration of mine closure in line with international best practice and raise the level of closure planning compliance.  Internationally, it is generally held that early closure planning will reduce costs and improve closure outcomes thereby reducing financial, environmental and social liabilities.
 
This paper presents the results of the first study to explore the integration of EIA and mine closure planning in Western Australia and consider the extent to which such integration facilitates effective MCPs at the project approval stage. The opinions of twelve experienced EIA and/or mine closure professionals, representing regulators and proponents alike, were obtained from semi-structured interviews. Thematic analysis used both top down and bottom up approaches to identify recurring themes and novel concepts. Overall both regulators and proponents were found to be strongly supportive of the integration of EIA and MCP and the potential of early planning to improve mine closure outcomes, particularly with regard to the identification and reduction of risk. However, opinions were divided about the influence of integration on the effectiveness of early MCP or if the current Western Australian ‘Guidelines for Preparing Mine Closure Plans’ are capable of delivering effective early MCP.  The responses suggest that although the current regulatory framework exists to drive integration that could enable effective MCP at the project approval stage, the most important factor is the motivation of key facilitators to pursue good outcomes. This suggests some weakness in the current framework with limiting factors that include a lack of transparency, guidance and enforcement.

Feature Author

Rebecca Getty

Rebecca is an environmental management professional with over 10 years’ experience in the mining industry. Her experience as an environmental advisor includes mine closure, environmental management plans and environmental approvals. She commenced her career as an exploration geologist, responsible for supervising drill programs and preparing technical and statutory reports.  She has designed, implemented and managed exploration programs for greenfields, mine definition and multi-stage projects in Australia and Canada. Rebecca’s experience in technical reporting includes authoring and co-authoring of reports across scoping, pre-feasibility and feasibility study levels according to international reporting guidelines, JORC Code and NI 43-101. Rebecca has strong project management and risk assessment skills.

Senior Consultant (Environmental and Mine Closure)
BSc (Hons) Geology, MAusIMM, MAIG
SRK Perth
SRK North America