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Mine Closure Planning

OKC’s mine closure philosophy includes the following concepts:

1)  Life of mine closure design

It is easiest to design a mine closure plan at the same stage as the first mine plan is developed. The ‘life of mine’ closure philosophy consists of developing a mine plan, developing a closure plan, operating the mine, demonstrating reclamation success (and modifying as required) and, lastly, reclaiming and monitoring. Progressive reclamation not only has social benefits for an operator, but allows feedback on performance for optimization or improvements to subsequent reclamation designs.

2)  Landform engineering: Sustainable long-term landforms based on long-term natural analogues

The purpose of landform engineering is to enhance long-term performance of rehabilitated mine landforms, create more natural-looking landforms in closure, explore aesthetic considerations for the closure landscape, meet stakeholder expectations, and potentially reduce long-term liability (security) for the performance of the closure landscape.

3)  Defensible design based on best science and engineering

The closure design must use ‘best science and engineering’ to plan and design. The design is only as good as the design criteria, so it is critical to select design criteria that meet the needs of all stakeholders. The design must acknowledge uncertainty and risk and provide for monitoring and contingency.

4)  Climate change considerations

A closure plan must acknowledge and design for changes due to climate change. This is accomplished by quantifying expected changes in temperature, precipitation, and evaporation as design criteria. Climate change has the potential to influence a number of factors for a reclamation design, including long-term runoff, erosion potential, permafrost degradation, sediment yield, and soil cover performance.

5)  Engagement with stakeholders

All technical work could be lost without engagement and communications with stakeholders and regulators.

Illustration of a design process for mine closure planning.

Illustration by Derrill Shuttleworth.