Mine closure regulations in Chile

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A4   |   Letter


SRK News | Issue 58
Mine Closure: Can closure create opportunities?

Marcela Curotto, Principal Chemical Engineer    

 

Assessing mine closure in Chile is a process that began partially in 1994 with the Law 19.300, Law of Environmental Bases, which requires an environmental assessment of the closure phase of all projects, establishing conceptual measures focused on prevention, mitigation and/or compensation of the environmental impacts produced in the closure phase.

The Mining Safety Regulation included a mandatory closure plan in 2004 presenting measures related to the physical stability and safety of the facilities. Three years later, a specific regulation was published for tailings deposits introducing obligations for its closure measures.  

Law 20.551 came into force in 2012 regulating mine closure and mining facilities, which increased the requirements for mine closure, establishing that all mining sites should have an approved closure plan prior to the commencement of operations. This closure plan should contain each mine´s features with a risk evaluation and environmental commitments of the closure phase as central themes.

Some of the objectives of this law are to ensure the physical and chemical stability of the remaining facilities, establish a financial bond to the state and create a post closure fund for monitoring closed mines.

Methodological guides for closure plans have been developed by SERNAGEOMIN, the relevant authority. These are focused on the development and presentation of closure plans including the minimum contents required and technical criteria. 

This new regulation has mobilised the mining industry towards including closure aspects in the mining plan with the following relevant topics: legal actions, design criteria and operational and financial considerations. However, one aspect that has not been considered in the current regulation is related to social implications associated with mine closure where a number of stakeholders are involved, such as direct and indirect employees as well as the communities impacted by the mining project. Currently, this is an issue that each mine may or may not approach according to its internal policies defined by their strategic guidelines. 

In 2012, SRK Chile established geochemistry and mine closure services providing technical and strategic support throughout the whole life cycle of the mining projects to address the new regulatory environment. Currently, highly-experienced and knowledgeable professionals enable the company to be positioned as a point of reference nationwide in this field, engaging the most important mining companies of the country within SRK´s portfolio.

Marcela Curotto: mcurotto@srk.cl

 

SRK Latin America