Mine site closure and long-term responsibility
Jul 4th, 2018
We were recently invited to participate to a public discussion on mine site closure and long-term responsibility. Of course we participated and commented from our risk and reliability point of view.
Below we summarize a few points we made.
Various voices and now UNEP demand for continued stewardship, management and monitoring and finally information for projects and mining operations during production and closure.
Long term decision making cannot be based on censored and biased scenarios, ignore uncertainties. That would be unethical and hazardous even in shorter terms.
- Hundred years is a long time: a century encompasses three to four generations and depending on the jurisdiction 15 to 25 presidential elections. 100 years ago WWI was raging “today”.
- Cheops pyramid is 4500 years old… way shorter than perpetuity!
- Perpetuity is very long.
Proper design, careful selections can help significantly, but we cannot consider them sufficient for longer terms.
Social acceptability is not constant in time. Regulations follow, to a certain point, social perception, so they will change.
An region that is “barren, unoccupied” today may become inhabited and/or critical in the future.
We have to think “atmospheric and social climate change” if we want to bring value to projects. Projects have to include specific “plan-B” to enable future adaptations.
Evaluate restorations projects in such a way they will protect future generations allowing them to understand and interact, possibly to their advantage, without taking unnecessary risks.
Restoration projects should be resilient and sustainable, have clear monitoring policies and updating procedures based on risk (risk informed decision making).
Walk-away projects for the long term are an illusion, but adaptive risk informed decisions will make a long term project sustainable.
Approach to Site closure and long-term responsibility
Long term goals require a transparent approach to project evaluation, alternative selections.
Their achievement requires:
- careful system’s definition,
- use of unequivocal language,
- study of interdependent scenarios without arbitrary censoring and biasing
- consequences evaluation considering their multi-dimensional aspects and finally
- use of explicit risk tolerance to prioritize and solve issues.
Proper design careful selections can help significantly. However we cannot consider them sufficient for longer terms.
Do we have what it is necessary?
The question is not correct.
The good one is “Are we ready to do what is necessary?”
And that starts with thoughtful and well balanced pre-feasibility studies, designs, proper risk assessments and risk informed decision-making, intelligent monitoring and maintenance plans.
There is even evidence that proper risk assessments and risk informed decision-making give a competitive edge to Site closure and long-term responsibility.
It is time to get to Mining and Restoration 2.0!
Tagged with: long-term responsibility, Mine site closure
Category: Consequences, Risk analysis, Risk management, Tolerance/Acceptability