Closure and Reclamation
to complete concurrent reclamation plans
that ensures a more balanced,
multidisciplinary approach to
Closure and reclamation of a mining property is a complex process. Done poorly, a closed mine can leave behind safety and environmental issues, economic and social community challenges, and ongoing costs and liabilities. The legacy of abandoned or poorly closed mines is one of the most damaging factors to our industry’s reputation. Although closure and reclamation practices have improved considerably over the years, events such as the Gold King Mine incident in Colorado – where government regulators inadvertently released 3 million gallons of contaminated wastewater into local waterways – continue to generate negative perceptions of mining.
On the other hand, proper mine closure can significantly minimize risks and liabilities, reduce the need to manage the property in perpetuity, and successfully transition the land from a mine site to a stable land resource that will provide sustainable community benefits for generations to come.
Our commitment to provide for long-term environmental stability and beneficial post-mining land uses is stated in our Sustainability and Stakeholder Engagement Policy, and our approach to fulfilling this commitment is detailed in our Closure and Reclamation Management Standard.
Newmont’s reclamation and closure strategy builds on industry leading practice and is designed to ensure we are taking a technically and financially sound approach to anticipating, understanding and managing our closure obligations. We are refreshing that strategy now to strengthen the accuracy and transparency of our closure and reclamation efforts and aligning them with our mine and business planning processes.
Prior to construction, each Newmont operation must have a closure and reclamation plan that:
- Identifies the technical aspects of closure and associated costs;
- Considers and addresses regulatory, community and stakeholder commitments and expectations identified during stakeholder engagements and social impact assessments;
- Identifies and addresses the risks and impacts of mine closure on the stakeholders and community;
- Establishes design and success criteria that minimize environmental, social and financial risks;
- Includes a concurrent reclamation plan integrated into annual and long-term mine plans; and
- Integrates closure and reclamation requirements into the annual mine planning process.
A multidisciplinary Closure and Reclamation Technical Team (CRTT) is responsible for the development and monitoring of the plans and for preparing closure cost estimates annually throughout the mine life.
To minimize the social and economic impact of mine closure, our new standard requires sites to engage and involve stakeholders in planning, implementing and monitoring the closure and reclamation process. Currently, all of our operations engage local stakeholders whenever a significant event – such as a permit change, mine expansion or environmental impact assessment – warrants a review of the mine closure plan.
Concurrent reclamation – the act of rehabilitating land that is no longer required for operations while we are still mining – is effective in achieving successful and sustainable post-closure outcomes. It helps minimize acid rock drainage and other environmental impacts; allows time to test options; takes advantage of the equipment and personnel already on site; and reduces the time required post-closure to achieve a successful outcome. We plan and budget for concurrent reclamation before operations begin and evaluate opportunities during the annual business planning process.
Another important aspect of our commitment is managing historic mine sites. In the past, many mine sites were not reclaimed to today’s standards, and today require ongoing passive and active management. We are committed to seeking innovative approaches and applying modern technologies to reduce impacts from historic sites while reducing long-term costs.
All sites met our global external target to complete concurrent reclamation plans during the year.
While we continually explore opportunities to extend the mine life at all our operations, at the end of 2015 two sites – Yanacocha and Lonetree – were within five years of their expected closure date based on current metal prices and our business plan.
All sites had closure and reclamation plans in place. During the year, an additional 303 hectares globally were disturbed by our operations and 36 hectares “achieved reclamation,” meaning that the areas had been reclaimed to meet appropriate success criteria. A total of 3,610 hectares are in various stages of reclamation, bringing the total cumulative disturbed ground not yet reclaimed to 31,932 hectares.
To ensure we leave a positive legacy and meet all legal and regulatory requirements, we accrue funds for reclamation costs relating to currently or recently producing mineral properties in accordance with Financial Accounting Standard (FAS) No. 143. We also have environmental obligations associated with former mining activities and sites that require developing and implementing remediation plans. For more details of Newmont’s closure and reclamation costs, please see our 2015 10-K report, pages 7, 73 and 144.
We enhanced our approach to closure planning and management through a new closure governance model that ensures a more balanced, multidisciplinary approach to closure planning and increases senior executive involvement and oversight of closure plans and costs. The governance model consists of a steering committee, working group and regional technical teams.
- The Closure and Reclamation (C&R) steering committee includes senior leaders from key functions and operations and is initially chaired by the Executive Vice President for Sustainability and External Relations.
- The working group is composed of multidisciplinary experts charged with ensuring that the Closure and Reclamation Management Standard and associated guidance are fit for purpose and that implementation is on track and at the level of quality required. In addition the working group will:
- Review closure plans for conformance with the standard;
- Assess the accuracy and reasonableness of estimated closure-related costs;
- Review annual concurrent reclamation plans and assess annual reclamation targets;
- Ensure closure-related risks are tracked and managed;
- Provide regular updates and recommendations to the steering committee; and
- Share internal and external best practices across Newmont.
We achieved an important milestone during 2015 related to one of our legacy mines – the Dawn Mining Company Midnite mine, a former uranium mine located within the Spokane Tribe of Indians reservation in the State of Washington. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved the site’s remedial design, clearing the way for remediation to begin. The design process included extensive engagement with the Spokane Tribe of Indians. This engagement will continue throughout implementation of the remedy over the next 10 years.
In 2015, our closure and reclamation targets focused on developing plans to incorporate and increase the annual area reclaimed concurrently with operations. Concurrent reclamation reduces our impacted footprint and minimizes the infiltration of water through mine rock and disturbed soils.
|Year||Target definition||Target for sites||Target for Newmont|
Percent of concurrent final reclamation activities executed against the site plan
|80 percent of Concurrent Final Reclamation Plan achieved||80 percent of planned reclamation activities achieved across Newmont|
|2017||90 percent of Concurrent Final Reclamation Plan achieved||90 percent of planned reclamation activities achieved across Newmont|
In 2016, we expect to finalize and implement an updated Closure and Reclamation Management Standard that incorporates more robust guidance on managing the socio-economic impacts of mine closure on host communities.
We will initiate the first remediation phase at the Dawn Mining Midnite mine, under supervision of the U.S. EPA, starting with contractor mobilization, development of site access and implementation of the formal community engagement approach in collaboration with the Spokane Tribe of Indians. We also will continue closure of the Dawn Mill site, which has been underway since 2013. We expect to complete surface reclamation during 2016, and the site will enter a post-closure monitoring period.