A raft of leading mining companies has joined forces with University of Queensland researchers to tackle the issue of mine closures.
The ‘Social Aspects of Mine Closure Research Consortium’ has committed to expanding the data which government, industry, and communities rely on when making decisions on mine closure.
It includes researchers from UQ’s Sustainable Mineral Institute (SMI) and delegates from BHP, Rio Tinto, Anglo American, Newcrest Mining Limited, Newmont Goldcorp, OceanaGold and MMG.
UQ’s Professor Deanna Kemp, who heads the Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining (CSRM), said the meeting reinforced academia and industry’s willingness to work together on pressing challenges facing the industry.
“A mine’s legacy endures long after its last product leaves the ground and there are often a complex set of social aspects to address,” Professor Kemp said.
“One of the main issues is the lack of relevant social performance data, innovative case studies, and a strong regulatory framework for this part of the mine life cycle.”
The consortium’s inaugural meeting on Friday had demonstrated industry’s appetite to invest in research, and to proactively improve its approach, she said.
Rio Tinto head of closure Peter Harvey said the consortium offered an opportunity for the industry to collaborate on an increasingly important issue.
“Closure and the social aspects of closure are a strategic issue for the whole industry moving forward and Rio Tinto have a number of mines approaching that part of their lifecycle,” he said.
“Collective thinking has the potential to generate outcomes, systems, and processes which will help us with the challenges of closure.
“Responsible management of communities and social performance is an absolutely fundamental enabler of our business performance and ability to mine in the short, medium and long term.
“Put very simply, our relationships with communities are the single longest continual relationship with any of our stakeholders.”