The International Council on Mining and Metals published Planning for Integrated Mine Closure: Toolkit (August 2008).

If you have not hitherto read about or thought about planning for mine closure, this new volume is an excellent place to start. The first five chapters take you at an even pace through the reasons why you should plan for closure from start to finish of a mine. The chapters set out the steps towards formulating a cost-effective and responsible closure plan. Then you are told how to implement this plan and why you should do so.

I believe that if every mine, everywhere implemented the policies and procedures so well set out in this volume, that there would be no more closure scandals, no more mine Superfund sites, no more abandoned mines and programs, and plenty of nice places to go recreate where once there was a mine.

This volume emphasizes the fact that:

Mine closure remains a challenging subject, despite clear recognition of good practice by operations and external stakeholder and the technical ability of companies to achieved recognized good practice. Many of the challenges are posed by the context or situation of a mine or mine development rather than by technical challenges and further dialogue on these issues from the users of this document is needed.

Which is a long and convoluted way of saying that engineers and scientists can close mines given time and money, but management and budgets, regulators and their demands for certainty, and hysterical NGOs get in the way.

The most valuable part of this new volume is the so-called “toolkit” of Section 6. Here again not much new, but nevertheless a useful collation of ideas, checklists, and best practice approaches. If you do what is inherent in the toolkit, nobody can accuse you of irresponsibility - you can justifiably claim to be mining responsibly.