Yukon Mine Closure – New Minerals Legislation

  • May 23, 2023

Okane Consultants mine closure

Yukon Mine Closure – New Minerals Legislation

The Yukon government is currently considering changes to legislation that governs mining operations in the territory, and one of the key areas of focus is reclamation and closure. At Okane Consultants, we specialize in providing expert advice and services on mine reclamation and closure planning. We believe that sustainable mining practices require comprehensive mine closure and reclamation plans, robust reporting on execution and progress of the plans, focused reclamation research to address risk and opportunity of the plans, and establishment of appropriate financial security to effectively manage sites in care and maintenance or that have been abandoned.

In recent years, there has been a growing focus on responsible mining with an emphasis on proper reclamation and closure of mining sites. In this article, we respond to questions in the New Minerals Legislation Discussion Paper related to abandoned sites, approaches for abandonment, reporting on reclamation and closure efforts, and effective deployment of financial security funds.

Comprehensive Mine Closure and Reclamation Plans

One of the most promising aspects of the proposed updates is the proposal requiring mining companies to develop closure plans early in the mining process. For Okane Consultants, use of the word ‘comprehensive’ is foundational to the proposed legislation change because this would result in a mine closure and reclamation plan that includes all aspects that influence closure of the mine.  Specifically, a mine plan that is fully integrated with the closure plan such that the closure plan is updated at the same frequency as the mine plan.  Our experience is that when progressive reclamation and closure is ‘not done’ at a site, it is not because of a lack of desire, but more often because it is not well integrated into the mine plan.

A comprehensive mine closure and reclamation plan limits the potential for unrecognized and underfunded risk in achieving a site’s closure objectives and future land use expectations.  This approach results in an adaptive and sustainable mine, rather than one that is simply efficient and compliant.

Reclamation Financial Security

One of the key challenges for mine regulation is ensuring mining companies have sufficient financial resources to carry out reclamation and closure activities. To address this, governing and regulatory bodies can require mining companies to provide a financial security, held specifically to address risk in implementing a reclamation and closure plan. The security could be reduced as the company successfully completes the work to an acceptable level of residual risk. The security must be updated as the mine plan and closure plan are updated, to reflect changing conditions at the mine site and evolving reclamation technologies.

Reporting on reclamation, closure efforts, and deployment of security is essential for ensuring transparency and accountability in the management of mining activities. Reporting requirements should be clear, standardized, and accessible to all stakeholders including local communities, Indigenous rightsholders, and government agencies.

Management of Abandoned Mines

Effective management of abandoned sites requires a comprehensive approach that addresses the root causes of abandonment. This includes measures to prevent abandonment, such as robust financial assurance mechanisms and effective enforcement of reclamation and closure obligations.

The focus on preventing abandonment through financial assurance mechanisms, such as security deposits or financial instruments, is a critical step in ensuring mining companies have the resources to carry out effective reclamation and closure plans. The proposed requirement for companies to develop and implement a site-specific reclamation and closure plan before commencing mining activities is also a positive step towards minimizing risk of abandonment.

There is an opportunity for greater clarity on the roles and responsibilities of government agencies, mining companies, and other stakeholders in managing abandoned sites. There is also a need to ensure adequate resources are available for effective monitoring and maintenance of abandoned sites, especially in cases where mining companies have ceased operations.

There is a need for greater engagement with local communities and Indigenous rightsholders regarding the management of abandoned sites. This includes incorporating traditional knowledge and local perspectives into reclamation and closure plans, as well as providing opportunities for local communities and Indigenous peoples to participate in execution of reclamation and closure works, as well as monitoring and maintenance activities.

There is also a need to address the legacy of abandoned sites from past mining activities. This may include developing comprehensive plans for the remediation and reclamation of abandoned sites that have not been addressed under previous legislation or regulations.

Our Approach

At Okane Consultants, we have extensive experience in developing mine reclamation and closure plans that are integrated with the site’s mine plan, and take into account relevant factors, including environmental, social, and economic considerations. Our team of experts works closely with our clients to develop customized plans tailored to the specific needs of each project and site.

Mine reclamation and closure regulations are an essential aspect of sustainable mining practices requiring a comprehensive and collaborative approach involving rightsholders and all stakeholders. At Okane Consultants, we are committed to providing expert advice and services on mine reclamation and closure planning based on the latest research and best practices. We believe that effective mine closure planning and regulatory governance is essential to protect the environment and ensure a positive lasting legacy for mining.

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