Operating the mine for closure

Tommi Kauppila, Geological Survey of Finland, PO Box 1237, 70211 Kuopio, Finland; tommi.kauppila(at)gtk.fi

A central paradigm in mine closure is that mines should be ‘operated for closure’. This idea includes employing continuous closure but has a wider scope than that.

  • Planning decisions and engineering designs or the daily mine operations should not compromise but enhance the objectives of mine closure
  • Data collection, record keeping and data management should contribute to the closure process (all monitoring data, deviations from original plans and designs etc.)
  • The mine should be operated in such a way that it is (demonstrably) possible to safely close it at all times. This is of special concern with unusual and transition periods such as care and maintenance phases and ramp ups.
  • All departments of the mining company adopt the principle of continuous closure and are committed to the Closure Management Plan (CMP) and the objectives laid out in it.
  • Financial and other resources are in place to implement the closure actions during mine operations and to select the engineering designs that eventually facilitate successful closure
  • The uncertainties and risks related to mine closure are reduced throughout the operations instead of only when the decision to close has been made.

The key to operating the mine for closure is putting the CMP into practice and getting the whole organization to commit to it. This requires extensive and continuous engagement with all relevant internal stakeholders and ensuring that everyone is aware of the objectives of the closure plan and of the implementation schedule. Furthermore, the CMP and the implementation actions should be scheduled in such a way that it is possible to include any closure-related requirements into engineering designs and mine operations. For instance, the general concepts for the closure of the tailings management facilities should be available to guide the engineering designs of the impoundment structures.

This type of ownership and awareness is best achieved when the internal stakeholders are actively involved in the drafting of the CMP, contributing their expertise, considering the requirements that mine closure may pose on their work, and committing to the process.