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Some Histories of Mine Closure, The Idea

Daryl Hockley, SRK Consulting and L.C. Hockley, AJBL Consultants Ltd.
Monday, June 1, 2015
First presented: 
Mine Closure 2015

Mine closure, the idea. Where did it begin and how did we develop our current understanding of the associated technical, environmental and social challenges? This paper will present three histories of mine closure, developed using different methods and leading to somewhat different conclusions.

The first history examines societal factors that contributed to the early ideas about mine closure. It uses the normal methods of historical research, specifically review of primary and secondary written sources, and focuses on how both competing resource uses and the development of environmental movements led to early mine closure legislation.

The second history addresses scientific and technical developments related to mine closure. It uses a method known as bibliometric mapping. Over 4,000 technical references related to mine closure were collected and analysed by a series of text-mining, statistical and graphical techniques. The results show the growth in the field as a whole from the 1960s to the present day, and also the shifts in emphasis from reclamation to more holistic closure, from the major element composition of affected waters to various minor and trace elements, and from bio-physical and chemical effects to socio-economic concerns.

The third history reviews the development of mine closure practices over the last twenty years. It draws on concept mapping exercises completed by mine closure experts in 1998 and again in 2006. It shows the transition from isolated specialties to a mature discipline, complete with higher level management processes, continuing growth in technical fields, and new interests in stakeholder and sustainability issues.

Even these three approaches together do not constitute a complete history. But perhaps they will enrich our understanding of how the idea of mine closure has changed and continues to change over time and in different parts of the mining industry.

Feature Author

Daryl Hockley

Daryl is a civil engineer with 30 years of experience in mine waste management, mine water management, and mine closure. That experience includes engineering design and cost estimation, stakeholder consultation, project and technical risk assessment, and research and development of new waste and water management methods. He has contributed to projects in seven Canadian provinces and three territories, as well as in Europe, Australia, Asia, South America, and several states in the USA. He has authored or co-authored over fifty publications.

Mine Closure Specialist
PEng, PE
SRK Vancouver
SRK Africa