Australian Centre for Geomechanics
Faculty of Computing, Health and Science
School of Natural Sciences / Centre for Ecosystem Management
Mining in developing regions face significant challenges for effective closure planning. A maturing mine closure regulatory environment and limited capacity within government to regulate mine closure issues can present considerable risk from an operation to the regional community and environment. Alternatively, if the operation adopts leading practice international standards in recognition of their corporate responsibilities and social license‐to‐mine in developing countries, there may be significant opportunities for enhanced social and environmental outcomes for host country and mining company. Using a case study from the Phu Kham Mine, Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Laos), we discuss some of the key challenges to closure planning, including the limitations of closure regulation and community capacity to assimilate closure issues, in a developing country. We describe how leading mine closure planning can be achieved in a developing country using leading practice international standards. The practical application of these standards is already leading to significant social outcomes in the areas of community development through initiatives targeting health, education and economic opportunities. When planning for closure, the focus must shift towards a longer term view, which endeavours to use the remaining years of the operation to prepare local communities for post‐mining independence and sustainable benefits. We highlight the potential for both social and environmental benefits post‐closure and the degree of planning required to get there.