Part of the Lundin-Snider Seminar series
If the mine you are operating will be stuck with your company forever – would you do something different?
As miners, the industry is expert at delivering safely at a price. Closure, traditionally, is pushed to the back of the productive life and given a myopic magnifying glass once a year to make sure its cost does not impair the balance sheet. The problem is that society demands more of us; governments are less willing to allow relinquishment, and there is real risk if the mine is sold off and the new company goes bankrupt, it will return to the balance sheet and reputation.
We realise that how we optimised the mine life in the past is not necessarily the best when we apply a modern set of optics. With the value of hindsight this paper examines case studies of mines in BHP Legacy Asset’s portfolio to compare short- and long-term closure thinking and showcase important aspects of closure. Aspects of closure that we need to consider in an integrated way such as: risk; technical; closure; water; social closure (now more commonly known as ‘just transition’); stakeholder management; innovation; climate change; operational integration, and change.
BHP Legacy Asset’s stewards 23 sites in various stages of closure across the USA and Canada; 200 people including contractors; 108 dams in 23 different facilities and 12 water treatment plants, most of which BHP did not mine but acquired in transactions. Costs are real and, in some cases, forever.
The industry needs to become expert at reimagining how to operate with closure in mind. It requires an integrated approach: mining, geology, data, geospatial, geotechnical, finance, environment, water, renewables, community, and legal. The industry needs to be able to make the case for outcomes that have long-term benefit, but which may require an increased short-term cost.
If the tension between short-term demands and long-term outcomes are realistic, beneficial to the environment and community, the industry can promote our licence to operate, and we can all be proud of our legacy.
Clara Balasko is the Head of Planning and Technical for BHP Legacy Assets. The Legacy Assets team manages 23 sites in various stages of closure across Canada and the United States of America. Clara is a civil engineer with 19 years of experience spanning geotechnical, environmental, and closure design, execution, and construction management focusing on lifecycle management of tailings storage facilities. She has a Bachelor’s in Geology from Texas A&M University and a Master’s in Geological Engineering from the University of Nevada, Reno. She started with BHP 3 years ago as a Responsible Tailings Facility Engineer for BHP’s 18 tailings storage facilities in the US and held the Geotechnical Manager position prior to her current role. Before joining BHP, she also worked as a consultant on projects in the Americas, Australia, and Asia. Projects she worked on include
- design and field engineering for closure of plant facilities, tailings impoundments, waste rock dumps, and a heap leach facility as part of the BHP San Manuel Mine Closure,
- design of the tailings and waste rock storage facility in Papua New Guinea that required the design of a two large (greater than 200 m) earthen dams in an area of high seismicity,
- operational support for a tailings storage facility at a Copper Mine in eastern Nevada.
This talk is part of the Lundin-Snider Seminar Series
Refreshments will be served after the talk.