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Planning for mine closures

Surface mining industry association, ASPASA, plans to work with Government to ensure the practical implementation of mining policies that will contribute towards the proper rehabilitation of land and sustainable upliftment of communities after the closure of a mine.

ASPASA director, Nico Pienaar, says mine owners and operators have a duty to ensure future generations are not negatively impacted by today’s mining activities. This extends to environmental rehabilitation, successful repurposing of land and assistance with the development of a sustainable economic legacy for surrounding communities.

As a major contributor to the country’s mining activities, the association voiced its support of concepts contained in the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy’s (DMRE) Draft National Mine Closure Strategy (2021) and vowed to work with the department to ensure the practicality of the strategy.

Good strategy

“Overall it is a good strategy that aims to ensure that mines play their part in the sustainable upliftment of regions while protecting the environment and ensuring the suitability of mined properties for future land uses. It also plans to put regional or cluster plans in place to ensure that one mines closure does not have a negative effect on other mines or the region’s ability to sustain themselves in future.  It calls for an integrated framework to be developed in which each mine plays a role in developing strategies for the region’s mine closures and calls for economic diversification rather than the complete closure of mines. The use of mining land for non-mining activities is central to the strategy and calls for close collaboration with surrounding businesses and communities.

“This type is in line with global developments and we see no reason why such a strategy would not be viable in South Africa. As with everything, however, it is in the delivery and implementation of such strategies that problems can arise and where ASPASA and its members can play an active role to ensure its success,” says Nico.

He concludes that ASPASA is leader in the implementation of environmental, as well as health and safety management tools in South Africa and that mine closure and rehabilitation are already well entrenched in member mines. The addition of economic and social plans in the planning of mine closures is the next logical step.

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