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Water Management during Mine Closure

Lisa A. Kirschner, Jeffrey V. Parshley, Water Quality & Wetlands Regulation and Management in the Development of Natural Resources (2002)

The number of hard rock mines that are or will be undergoing closure in the foreseeable future has increased substantially over the last few years-. The increase in closure properties is due to a number of factors; for example, many mines are reaching long-planned end of mine life. Additionally, depressed metal prices have accelerated the closure time line for certain operations. Notably, the increase in the number of mines addressing closure-related issues has also been accompanied by a general increase in the sophistication of both the regulators and the regulated community with respect to reclamation techniques and long-term environmental planning. This atmosphere has resulted in the need to commit additional resources to closure and commence closure planning earlier.

The experiences gained over the last decade have demonstrated the common goals of both the regulators and mining community; the closure goals for a mine are typically aimed at achieving all closure criteria (and the associated bond release) as expeditiously as possible, returning the site to a viable post-mining land use, and avoiding any long-term management problems or obligations. While this approach may be generally characterized in reclamation plans throughout the life of mine, complicating issues typically arise when closure is imminent and the closure plan details are being developed. In that re