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Mine Closure

Every mine has a finite operational life, and the eventual closure of a mine can contribute to significant social, economic, and environmental changes, especially in nearby communities.

We believe that properly closing a mine has to involve managing and addressing our partners’ social and economic concerns, as well as the environmental impacts and obligations created by Barrick.

We start planning for mine closure even before construction begins. We have developed a Mine Closure Management System (MCMS) and integrate this planning into our decision making by embedding closure considerations into both our Community Relations and Environmental Management Systems.

Mine Closure Management System

Our mine closure planning — both the social and environmental aspects — begins early in the mine life cycle. During project development, mine closure planning is considered and conceptual Mine Closure Plans are developed. In support of this, we have developed a Mine Closure Management System (MCMS) that incorporates the requirements of a number of foundational Barrick policies, procedures and guidelines, including the Corporate Social Responsibility Charter, Environmental Policy, Mine Closure Standard, Environmental Management System, Community Relations Management System, and Community Relations Standard.

Over the life of a mine, reclamation, and closure technologies evolve, regulations can expand, stakeholder expectations can change, and our knowledge expands with lessons learned from around the world. Therefore, the MCMS has been designed to reflect and adapt to changing conditions, including by requiring periodic audits, corrections, and risk assessments.


  • We currently manage 33 sites (including Pierina). In 2016, Barrick signed sale agreements for the sale of three sites (two of which closed in 2016 and one closed in early January 2017) and one farmed-out site in early March 2017.
  • In 2016, the closure group introduced the brownfield redevelopment program to investigate and execute projects that would generate income for Barrick, reduce site risks, and enhance Barrick’s license to operate. Barrick is currently investigating the development of utility-scale solar plants at two closure sites and of recreational and residential developments at several other closure sites.
  • Currently, two of our mines are closing or are nearing planned closure within three to five years: Pierina and Golden Sunlight. At these sites, work is already underway to prepare the local communities for eventual closure.
  • In 2016, Barrick continued to study a number of different innovative programs at closure sites, including:
    • We are studying the application of new water treatment technologies to treat mine impacted water at closure sites in British Columbia and Nevada.
    • In late 2016, we commissioned a vendor to install remote water-quality sampling and analysis equipment for certain constituents of concern at a closure site in Colorado. The balance of remote sensors and equipment will be installed in 2017, which will allow the remote apparatus to sample and analyze all constituents of concern at the site on a continuous basis. Barrick will continue to take all water-quality samples required by its permits, and ship those samples for analysis to an accredited laboratory until such time as it is able to amend its permit to allow for remote sampling and analysis.
    • As part of the closure plan at Pierina, the mine is stabilizing the open pit by constructing an in-pit central backfill, while recovering incidental ounces of gold in the leach pad. Pierina has also constructed more robust water management ponds in the open pit drainage basin. Barrick has commissioned an Acid-Rock Drainage treatment plant for the effluent from the pit and waste rock facilities.

Environmental Closure

Mine closure planning is an important part of our commitment to environmental protection. During project development, closure planning is considered and conceptual Mine Closure Plans are developed. One hundred percent of our operating sites have mine closure plans in place, which are reviewed and revised regularly. Closure cost estimates are developed, which include funds for concurrent reclamation activities (progressive reclamation of disturbed lands during the operations stage when they are no longer needed for active mining) along with, in some jurisdictions, financial assurance instruments for final reclamation after closure. Barrick has also developed corporate guidance for closure cost estimation in an effort to accurately estimate closure costs.

100% of our operating sites have environmental closure plans in place

At closure, in order to return disturbed lands to a stable state for post-mining land use, we remove, relocate, demolish or transfer ownership of buildings and physical infrastructure; remove and dispose of contaminated soils; close pits and shafts; stabilize underground workings; treat mine-impacted waters appropriately; and slope, contour, cap or cover, and (where practicable) re-vegetate our waste rock, heap leach and tailings facilities. We also protect water resources and other environmental media. The post-mining land use of a property may differ from its prior condition and is the result of negotiation and agreement with regulators and stakeholders. In all cases, it is our goal to protect the long-term viability of the land once mining ceases.

Social Closure

Mine closure can be disruptive to the social and economic activity of the communities near a mine. Planning for closure from the design stage, and throughout the life of a mine, helps us to better understand community perspectives, identify opportunities to mitigate potential impacts, and make sure adequate resources are available to mitigate negative impacts where practical. Barrick’s Community Relations Management System and the Community Relations Standard set explicit requirements for the consideration of social closure in all planning, from the project’s design phase through the life of the mine.

To mitigate social, economic and other impacts on these communities, Barrick standards require that, three years prior to anticipated closure, all sites undertake a Social Closure Impact Assessment (SCIA), a Social Closure Risk Assessment (SCRA), and a Social Closure Plan (SCP). SCIAs focus on identifying the potential social risks and impacts to a community from mine closure and require the development of mitigation plans to address any identified risks and impacts.

Most social closure planning activities take place during development and operation and focus on promoting local capacity building. We support education and skills development, and work in close collaboration with local economic diversification programs, where they exist, so that a healthy, sustainable community can continue to flourish once closure is complete.

As well as addressing the needs of local communities, Barrick provides employee assistance during closure to identify new potential career opportunities. Where possible, our goal is to offer continuing employment opportunities at other Barrick operations. We also offer out-placement services for employees who are not able to relocate.