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Reasonable Expectations for Mine Closure

By Colorado School of Mines

Colorado School of Mines
1500 Illinois Street
Freidhoff Hall, Green Center
Golden, CO 80401

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No cost to attend, but advance registration is required.

Sponsored by Colorado School of MinesPayne Institute for Earth ResourcesDepartment of Mining Engineering, and Humanitarian Engineering Program. Special thanks to the Keystone Policy Center.

Colorado School of Mines will convene a high-level summit on the closure of abandoned, historic mines. Worldwide, many mines not being closed – rather they are kept in care and maintenance status, perhaps in perpetuity. Mines have been abandoned or unsuccessfully closed with emergent and latent environmental, political, and societal impacts. In many cases, historic mines were operated prior to the implementation of current laws and regulations. Postponement in closure negatively impacts the reputation of the current industry and raises major questions for communities in the granting of social license to mine future sites. 

The summit will focus on reasonable closure expectations, motivated by the problem of environmental, social, and economic impact. Environment and community sustainability must be important components of closure and reclamation. Sustainable closure with minimal active management is desirable for all stakeholders, but to achieve this we need to identify holistic and integrated environmental and societal aspects to achieve effective and acceptable closure, which requires:

  • Understanding of the status of surface and underground workings, water and materials
  • Understanding of the current state and federal programs regarding mine closure and governing long-term shut-down conditions, and how these might be enhanced or refined
  • Monitoring environmental changes throughout the closure and reclamation process at each mine
  • Management of long-term risk and liability issues
  • Understanding the social, economic, and political contexts of the communities located near or downstream from abandoned mines
  • Development, demonstration, and implementation of new methods and technologies
  • Engaged stakeholders and constituency groups, including:
           - Mining companies
           - Impacted communities
           - Watershed organizations
           - Federal, state, county, municipality and tribal agencies
           - Professional organizations and consultants
           - NGOs
           - Universities

This summit will propose tangible frameworks to guide stakeholders in holistic planning and undertaking tangible actions that will begin systematic remediation.

Advance registration required. For more information, contact Dr. Priscilla Nelson, Department Head of Mining Engineering at pnelson@mines.edu or visit EarthPolicy.Mines.edu.