Post-Mining Transition: A mining operation which is considered consistent with sustainable development is one whereby planning for closure is present during the entire operation of the mine.
To this end, governments should consider:
Ensuring that closure plans prepared by mining entities are of a high standard and updated on a regular basis by:
- Providing legal and regulatory frameworks for closure;
- Having the institutional capacity to monitor and enforce their provisions;
- Requiring that stakeholders be consulted in the development of closure objectives and plans;
- Requiring that a comprehensive closure report and adequate financial assurance be provided before the requisite development and mining permits for a new mine are approved;
- Requiring the use of external experts by entities to contribute to the development of closure plans and to validate the risk assessments, studies and activities associated with high risk elements such as tailings dams, waste dumps and acid rock drainage;
- Requiring that internationally accepted guidelines and best practices (such as IFC Performance Standards on Social & Environmental Sustainability) be followed;
- Requiring the periodic reassessment and independent auditing of closure plans: more frequently for mines with an expected short operating life, less frequently for large operations with economic life expectancies measured in decades; and
- Putting in place a framework to encourage progressive rehabilitation in mining areas as soon as the disturbed area is no longer needed for mining. This would reduce future closure liabilities and reverse or minimizes future environmental, economic and social impacts.
The development of financial assurance mechanisms for mine closure by:
- Ensuring that financial assurance for closure and post-closure expenses is present and adequate to the task and by adopting legislation, regulations and guidelines for financial assurance. These would:
- Require an adequate level of financial assurance based on realistic estimates to cover the cost of all outstanding work programmes at any time, including premature closure and the conduct of closure programmes by third party contractors in the event that the mine operator is unable or unavailable to complete the work;
- Require that each closure plan and its cost estimates be validated or approved by the responsible authorities;
- Establish appropriate forms of financial security (bonds, insurance, etc.), including their specific details and conditions;
- Require that the financial securities be issued or held only by qualified and approved financial institutions;
Give governments, based on their sole discretion, the right to gain immediate and unencumbered access to the full amount of the financial assurance securities; and
- Allow the draw-down or release of security instruments only as each work programme or other requirement is satisfied.
Accept a leadership role for orphaned and abandoned mines in their jurisdiction by:
- Working in partnership with entities that collectively constitute the mining industry to explore options for developing technological solutions (including the reprocessing of mining wastes) or contributing expertise or other resources to help resolve the legacy issue of orphaned or abandoned mines;
- Working in partnership with those countries whose economies benefitted from the flow of low‐cost industrial inputs that came at least in part from mines that are now orphaned or abandoned that contribute to the resolution or management of abandoned mines;
- Using targeted fiscal arrangements to encourage the reactivation of those mines to create economic activity, fund remediation, and provide for post‐closure management in cases where such a mine or its wastes have economic potential; and
- Seeking recognition by multilateral agencies and organizations that the historical and legal situation of such mines, particularly in developing countries, requires their leadership in managerial, advisory, hortatory and financial forms.
The IGF’s flagship policy guidance and assessment tool is the Mining Policy Framework (MPF). The MPF lays out international best practices in six key pillars of mining policy and law: the legal and policy environment; financial benefit optimization; socioeconomic benefit optimization; environmental management; mine closure and post-mining transitions; and artisanal and small-scale mining.