The New GRI 14: Mining Sector Standard – What Does It Mean for Mine Closure?

  • April 17, 2024

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The New GRI 14: Mining Sector Standard – What Does It Mean for Mine Closure?

The mining industry fulfills the essential role of meeting the demand for critical minerals that shape modern societies. As this demand grows, it is imperative that the industry prioritize responsible practices that safeguard the environment and the rights, well-being, and legacies of local communities. Given the significant impact of a mining operation on local economies, communities, and the environment, as well as the widespread demand for transparency on such impacts, the recent introduction of a global reporting standard for mining by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), GRI 14: Mining Sector Standard, marks an important milestone for the mining industry. 

The new GRI 14 Standard offers an opportunity to report on the implementation of an integrated approach to mine planning and planning for returning (post-mining) land use. As mine closure experts, we have explored the implications of the new GRI 14 Standard for mine closure. 

Who does the GRI 14: Mining Sector Standard apply to?

Set to take effect on January 1, 2026, the GRI 14 Standard applies to organizations involved in any of the following activities:

  • Exploration, extraction, and processing: This encompasses quarrying and primary processing of all types of metallic and non-metallic minerals, excluding oil, gas, and coal.
  • Mining support activities: This includes activities such as transportation and storage, provided the activities are integrated into the core operations of the mining organization.
  • Supplying specialized products and services: This includes contractors providing engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) services and other operational activities mentioned above.

Importance of the GRI 14: Mining Sector Standard

With increasing pressure on mining companies to demonstrate their commitment to managing environmental and socioeconomic impacts, the GRI 14 Standard was developed to improve sustainability reporting within the mining sector (GRI 14 FAQ, 2024).

The Standard provides a comprehensive framework of metrics that companies can use to assess and communicate their efforts in enhancing environmental stewardship and community engagement. The GRI 14 Standard also enables companies to accurately identify and prioritize material impacts to report on, enabling stakeholders to make informed decisions regarding investment, partnerships and collaborations, and regulatory compliance.

Adherence to GRI 14 encourages proactive management of risks and opportunities and places emphasis on transparency and accountability while aligning closely with community and stakeholder expectations.

GRI 14 Material Topics: Mine Closure

The GRI 14 Standard outlines a section on “Likely Material Topics”, which companies must review to identify those applicable to or impacted by their operations. These material topics can range from environmental impact to community relations and beyond.

Identifying material topics affected by mine closure is crucial for companies to effectively fulfill their reporting obligations. By reporting on identified material topics and providing required disclosing details, companies are able to prioritize resources and efforts toward addressing significant impacts.

We have identified several of these topics to be material to integrated mine closure, reclamation, and relinquishment efforts.

GRI 14 Mine Closure v2

Okane’s Approach

Material Topic: Climate Adaptation and Resilience

Impact and Importance of Material Topic: Climate change, including temperature and precipitation shifts, has the potential to significantly impact mining operations (Nelson & Schuchard, n.d.). Climate change events like increased rainfall can potentially contribute to geotechnical instability of tailings storage facilities (TSFs), while drier climates can lead to potential dust events as water availability for dust suppression diminishes (Global Reporting Initiative, 2024). Without considering climate change resilience in closure plans, these consequences can impact the health and safety of operational workers and surrounding communities.

How Okane can help: In our approach to climate resilience at Okane, we prioritize the integration of climate change scenarios into our numerical models. Tools like the Köppen-Geiger climate classification system and general circulation models (GCM) help us gain a comprehensive understanding of regional climate conditions, and we use a statistical downscaling approach to develop site-specific climate databases. Instead of using average historical data, we consider the probability and consequences of various climate change scenarios to acknowledge the variability and complexity of climate patterns, ensuring our designs are resilient. 

  • Read the following case study to learn more about Okane’s approach to adjusting cover system design for climate change. 

Material Topic: Air Emissions

Impact and Importance of Material Topic: Mining operations and mined material storage facilities, such as tailings storage facilities, can release various pollutants, including dust and particulate matter (Global Reporting Initiative, 2024). This dust, often containing heavy metals and other harmful substances, can be transported to nearby communities and ecosystems.

How Okane can help: We help our clients identify the right, site-specific management strategy for fugitive dust management. From implementing immediate temporary solutions to longer-term progressive reclamation, like revegetation of exposed tailings materials, we work with our client to effectively manage dust management throughout the mine closure process.

Material Topic: Biodiversity

Impact and Importance of Material Topic: As a large-scale development, mining operations can have an impact on biodiversity and ecosystems. Land clearance for mining, access routes, and waste management facilities drives biodiversity loss and contributes to erosion or desertification (Global Reporting Initiative, 2024). Operating mines can impact ecosystems through light, noise, and vibration, and poorly planned or executed revegetation projects may introduce invasive species.

How Okane can help: At Okane, we work with our clients to develop material and soil management plans to preserve soil resources. When designing revegetation programs, we prioritize self-sustaining and long-lasting ecosystems. We also prioritize collaboration with local communities and Indigenous rightsholders to integrate their expertise and knowledge into our revegetation and biodiversity preservation plans. 

Material Topic: Waste

Impact and Importance of Material Topic: Mining activities, including extraction and processing, can result in byproducts such as overburden, mine rock, and tailings (Global Reporting Initiative, 2024). These materials can contain toxic and heavy metals, which without proper management, can pose environmental degradation and contamination risks to nearby communities and ecosystems (UN Economic Commission for Europe, 2014). 

How Okane can help: Cover systems can be an effective mine waste management approach by providing a stable and sustainable engineered interface between the mine waste and the surrounding environment. At Okane, we have over 25 years of specialized experience with designing, constructing, and monitoring cover systems and landforms. We help clients implement cover systems for both geotechnical and geochemical stability and also to facilitate the safe transition of mine-impacted lands to returning land use(s). 

  • Read more about our work in New South Wales, Australia, where an enhanced store-and-release cover system with a geosynthetic clay layer helped increase the tailings storage capacity, along with improving landform and surface water management. 

Material Topic: Tailings

Impact and Importance of Material Topic: Mine tailings, often managed through various storage methods such as above-ground dam storage facilities, backfilled pits, and filtered stockpiles, can present environmental and health risks if they contain heavy metals or sulfides (Global Reporting Initiative, 2024). Dam failures, contaminated seepage, or runoff due to inadequate water management or extreme weather events can lead to infrastructure damage and environmental contamination, potentially also posing risks to surrounding communities and ecosystems (Global Reporting Initiative, 2024).

How Okane can help: Okane adopts a holistic approach to tailings management that includes evaluating tailings storage and management alternatives. Within the context of mine closure and environmental risk management, we help clients prioritize risk management by facilitating Failure Modes and Effects Analysis workshops to identify viable site-specific adaptive management and response plans. Our dedicated team of geoscientists and geotechnical and mining engineers integrates geochemical analysis with geotechnical assessments and site-specific objectives to develop tailored tailings material placement and management plans.

  • For one of our clients in Peru, Okane evaluated the potential extent of sulfide oxidation caused by oxygen ingress, and the potential for rock strength degradation as part of the operation’s proposed expansion of the tailings management facility embankment.

Material Topic: Water and Effluents

Impact and Importance of Material Topic: Throughout the life of mine and even beyond closure, water availability and quality can be significantly impacted by the mining industry’s reliance on water for operational activities (Miranda et al., 2010). Decreased water availability and water quality degradation have a profound impact on local communities and surrounding ecosystems, especially since mining activities can potentially contaminate surface and groundwater sources. Effluent discharge, metal leachate, and the generation of acid mine drainage (AMD) are key contributors to water quality degradation (Global Reporting Initiative, 2024). 

How Okane can help: Okane believes in prioritizing water stewardship throughout the mining lifecycle. We specialize in unsaturated zone hydrology for mine rock stockpiles and cover systems, along with hydrogeology assessment of contaminant migration and potential groundwater impacts. Our cover system and landform designs are developed to ensure adaptability to climate change while minimizing the volume of contact water that requires long-term collection and treatment. 

  • Learn more about Okane’s approach to improving source term control and water quality for contaminants of interest within a mined rock stockpile. 

Material Topic: Closure and Rehabilitation

Impact and Importance of Material Topic: Mine closure and rehabilitation planning is critical for returning mine-affected land to a condition that is geochemically and geotechnically stable for the long term (IIED, 2002). When closure is implemented successfully, it facilitates ecosystem restoration, reduces long-term pollution, safeguards local water sources, ensures public safety, and achieves returning land use objectives that benefit surrounding communities (Global Reporting Initiative, 2024). Neglecting proper closure can lead to environmental degradation, resulting in issues like water and food contamination, compromised housing, and health concerns (Mining Watch Canada, 2012). 

Effective closure planning begins at the outset of the mining lifecycle, aligning with regulatory requirements and incorporating input from subject matter experts, community members, and Indigenous rightsholders. This proactive approach helps minimize environmental and societal impacts while incorporating opportunities for progressive reclamation during operations (Global Reporting Initiative, 2024). 

How Okane can help: As leading experts in mine closure, Okane has developed an effective Roadmap to Closure that provides a clear path to identifying, prioritizing and implementing integrated mine closure and relinquishment solutions at all stages of the mine lifecycle, tailored to each site’s risk profile. We have published conference and journal papers, including internationally recognized guidance documents for the mining industry on cover system and landform design, monitoring, and modelling. 

  • Visit our Research and Development page to learn more about Okane’s contributions and innovative mine planning and closure solutions to the mining industry.

Material Topic: Economic Impacts

Impact and Importance of Material Topic: Mine operations require significant investment and yield economic benefits to local communities and countries, but the closure process demands economic restructuring and careful planning (Global Reporting Initiative, 2024). Inadequately planned or executed mine closure can generate legacy impacts with economic burdens for communities and governments (Global Reporting Initiative, 2024).

How Okane can help: Accurate mine closure cost estimates ensure our clients account for asset retirement obligations, post-closure monitoring, and enable design decisions that efficiently manage closure liabilities throughout the mine lifecycle. In accordance with ISO 21795-2 standards for mine closure and reclamation planning, Okane aligns our closure cost estimates with the cost-estimating methodology endorsed by the Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering (AACE), and we leverage industry-recognized tools like the Nevada Standardized Reclamation Cost Estimator (SRCE), the Mine Closure Cost Estimator (MCCE), and the British Columbia Regional Mine Reclamation Bond Calculator. 

  • In Türkiye, Okane used a best-in-class mine planning package to model and cost a fully integrated life of mine (LOM) plan, yielding a practical and executable solution aligned with the existing LOM strategy.

Material Topic: Local Communities; Rights of Indigenous Peoples; Land and Resource Rights

Impact and Importance of Material Topic: It is widely acknowledged that mining operations carry significant risks and impacts for local communities, particularly for Indigenous rightsholders. Mining activities can affect the availability, accessibility, and quality of water, a fundamental resource crucial to the well-being of Indigenous communities (Global Reporting Initiative, 2024). Restricted access to traditional cultivation or trapping lands can lead to the loss of cultural identity (Global Reporting Initiative, 2024), and untransparent community engagement and consultation can negatively impact long-term relationships or result in inequitable distribution of economic benefits.

How Okane can help: When developing integrated mine and closure plans, we collaborate with local Indigenous groups to integrate Traditional knowledge into a returning land use plan that considers traditional vegetation as well as animal habitats and migration routes. Okane looks at integrated mine planning and closure planning as an opportunity to demonstrate commitment to reconciliation and as an opportunity to cultivate sustainable, locally-owned businesses.

  • Learn more about our work in British Columbia, Canada, highlighting our approach to facilitation and collaboration with our clients, local communities, and Indigenous subject matter experts when developing reclamation and closure plans.

Interdisciplinary Expertise

Okane’s interdisciplinary focus facilitates the development of a comprehensive, integrated mine closure plan from the outset of a mine’s life. This strategy enables us to help our client effectively navigate evolving regulatory and reporting requirements, including compliance with the GRI 14 Standard in Mining. Our unique technical expertise in integrated mine closure planning helps us provide tailored solutions that align with the requirements and disclosure of GRI 14’s material topics. Through collaborative and co-development with impacted stakeholders and rightsholders, we believe that integrated mine closure planning can be an opportunity to prioritize sustainable development, preserve biodiversity, and enable community socioeconomic welfare.

For further details, reach out to


Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). (2024). GRI Standards – GRI 14: Mining Sector 2024 (GRI14). Retrieved from

GRI. 2024. GRI 14: Mining Sector 2024 – Frequently Asked Questions [Fact sheet]. Global Reporting Initiative.

International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED). (2002). Mining, Minerals and Sustainable Development: Research on mine closure policy. International Institute for Environment and Development.

Mining Watch Canada. (2012). Background sources supporting shareholders resolution – Re: Mine closure. Mining Watch Canada.

Miranda, M., Sauer, A., & Shinde, D. (2010). Mine the gap: Connecting water risks and disclosure in the mining sector. World Resources Institute Working Papers.

Nelson, J. & Schuchard, R. (n.d.). Adapting to climate change:  A guide for the mining industry. Business for Social Responsibility.

United Nations (UN) Economic Commission for Europe. (2014). Safety guidelines and good practices for tailings management facilities. United Nations Economic Commission for Europe.

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