Murdoch supports best practice in African mine closure

July 14, 2017

Murdoch University is helping to ensure African mines eventually become safe and sustainable land.

A Murdoch University initiative is helping to develop African mines that includes a plan for future sustainable rehabilitation of the land.

Mining professionals from 14 African countries attended Murdoch University’s Managing Mine Closures training program, a hands-on short course conducted in two of the world’s most active mining regions.

The course, funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade as part of the Australia Awards Africa Fellowship, targeted mid-career mining professionals working in government, industry or non-government organisations in Africa.

Murdoch University sustainability expert Associate Professor Angus Morrison-Saunders said the course addressed Africa’s legacy of abandoned and derelict mines — in some of the most mineral rich areas of the world — that required a formal mechanism to be returned to safe, sustainable land.

“Mining companies are legally required to rehabilitate former operational mine sites and ensure that they are restored to a safe and productive social and environmental state after the mine is closed,” Professor Morrison-Saunders said

“While this concept is well rooted in mining legislation in many developed countries, this is not always the case in developing countries, especially in Africa.

“Participants had a chance to learn in interactive and experiential way through field visits to active, historic and abandoned mining areas, which aimed to provide them with practical guidance for their home environments, working with government regulators and influencing both practice and legislative reform.”

The Managing Mine Closures course was conducted in Western Australia and South Africa; with participants spending approximately three weeks in each region.

“After gaining an understanding of mine closure planning and implementation across the life-cycle of mining activity, participants developed sustainable return-to-work plans and strategies,” Professor Morrison-Saunders said.

“Participants learned how to design, construct and manage mining operations for effective closure.

“Awardees of the Program will now play a leadership role within their respective communities in both private and public entities, whilst assisting in developing sustainable environmental projects within those countries."

Murdoch University has now developed a policy document for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, which encapsulates the key research learnings to improve the Australian government’s influence on mining closure practices in Africa.

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Media contact: Pepita Smyth
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