DOI: 10.3390/mining4010005 ISSN: 2673-6489

A Mine Closure Risk Rating System for South Africa

Megan J. Cole
  • General Medicine

Mine closure is a growing concern in mining countries around the world due to the associated environmental and social impacts. This is particularly true in developing countries like South Africa where poverty, social deprivation and unemployment are widespread and environmental governance is not strong. South Africa has 230 operating mines located in diverse natural and social settings. Over 6 million people live in urban and rural mining host communities who will be significantly affected by mine closure. The national, provincial and local governments need guidance in identifying high-risk areas and relevant policy and programmatic interventions. This paper describes the development of a quantitative mine closure risk rating system that assesses the likelihood of mine closure, the risk of social impact and the risk of environmental impact of mine closure for every operating mine in the country. The paper visualises the high likelihood of closure and environmental impacts for numerous coal and gold mines, and the significant social risks in the deprived rural platinum and chrome mining areas. The rating system was tested with 10 mines and 19 experts, and the resulting maps are communicated in an online South African Mine Closure Risk and Opportunity Atlas. The risk ratings could be used in mine closure planning and management by mining companies, consultancies, governments and affected communities. While this risk rating system has been designed for South Africa, the methodology and framework could be applied to any mining country in the world.

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