Planned Mine Closure
Due to its extensive mining history, there is particular concern in Chile about the unplanned abandonment of mining operations. The Group’s commitment as owners goes beyond legal compliance, from the exploration phase to mine closure.
In 2016, the Group adopted a corporate standard for comprehensive mine closure, that ensures legal compliance and the physical and chemical stability of the facilities as well as the management of environmental and social aspects not already covered by Chilean legislation.
Since 2012, Chilean law1 has required mine operators to plan for the closure of their operations and to ensure the availability of the financial resources to do so. These plans must be updated every five years in order to reduce the risks and impact of the closure process on people and the environment. A closure plan may be permanent or temporary, and may apply to the complete operation or only to some of its facilities.
All the Group’s operations have closure plans approved by the National Geology and Mining Service (Sernageomin)2, the government agency responsible for geological and mining issues.
1 Law 20,551, which regulates the closure of mining operations in Chile.
2 National Geology and Mining Service – the state agency responsible for the country’s geological and mining matters, including authorising mine closure plans.
In 2016, Centinela updated its closure plan to combine the plans it has for it former Esperanza and El Tesoro operations before their integration. The plan outlines measures to ensure the physical and chemical stability of facilities remaining in the area of the mining operation, such as pits, waste dumps and tailings storage facilities, and the safe dismantling of the infrastructure. Approval of the updated plan by the authority is expected in the first quarter of 2017.
The closure of the Cerro Amarillo mine dump has continued its legal course.
Michilla implemented a temporary shutdown plan from January 2016 until its sale in November of the same year3.
INTEGRATED MINE CLOSURE STANDARD
The Antofagasta Minerals mine closure standard sets guidelines for identifying key aspects of this stage of an operation and provides the tools for timely and effective planning, approval by the authority and the notification of the community. Among other things it includes risk evaluation, environmental and social impact assessment, and addresses financial and postclosure guarantees.
3 Michilla was sold to the Haldeman Mining Company (HMC).