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Framework to aid mine site completion

The Western Australian Biodiversity Science Institute (WABSI) has published a new report – A framework for developing mine site completion criteria in Western Australia – that aims to improve mining industry practice for rehabilitation and the land’s successful transition to next usages such as development, agriculture or conservation.

The framework received funding from a range of sources, including the WA Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS), and the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation. Construction materials company Hanson Heidelberg Cement, along with mining companies Alcoa, BHP, Rio Tinto and Mount Gibson Iron, helped fund and/or contribute to the report.

Lead author Dr Renee Young, from the ARC Centre for Mine Site Restoration in Curtin University’s School of Molecular and Life Sciences, said the government-endorsed tool was developed to address existing shortfalls and inconsistencies among mining companies when producing completion criteria for regulators.

{{quote-A:R-W:175-I:2-Q:"If companies need help, regulators are referring them to this report as a way of developing completion criteria …" -who:Renee Young, Curtin University}}“The framework is essentially the boxes that need to be ticked in order to close a site, as well as being able to produce targets that are achievable and having those agreed upon with government,” she said.

“Western Australia was seeing large inconsistency across different mining companies, regions and commodities, so we are hoping to bridge that gap. This ensures that when operators are developing these completion criteria everyone is working towards achievable targets.”

What is the completion criteria?

Completion criteria are defined as agreed standards or levels of performance that indicate the success of rehabilitation and enable an operator to determine when its liability for an area will cease.

Because of this important function, the researchers say it is imperative the criteria are effectively formulated to capture end-state goals, are accepted by all involved and agreed by regulators and the proponent. The targets also need to be achievable, and demonstrated through transparent and appropriate monitoring and documentation.

Young said the framework also outlined how companies can recognise the need for intervention. Despite being designed to meet WA regulations, she said many aspects of the document would be applicable in other states.

“If companies need a bit of help in getting up to standard, regulators are referring them back to this report, and telling them this is a way you can develop completion criteria to get approval,” she said.

“It’s designed to be incredibly flexible as well, so companies can use the framework in its entirety, or they can pick or choose or use certain components if they only need a little bit of support. I think that's one of the most important things, it's a tool to be able to facilitate their internal processes, which previously they did not have access to.”

The framework was delivered through a collaborative effort drawing on leading experts from universities, industry and government in WA, providing the rigour and credibility that has led to a state government endorsement.

To view the completion criteria framework, visit the WABSI website.


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