Skip to main content
Sustainability > Environment

Mine Closure

We start planning for mine closure even before construction begins.

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 must involve mitigating our environmental impacts, as well as managing and addressing our partners’ social and economic concerns. We recognize that it may not be possible to restore a mine site exactly as it was prior to mining, but it is possible to restore a healthy, thriving ecosystem, with lands that support productive post-mining land use.

We have developed a Permitting and Closure Management System (PCMS) so that closure planning is integrated into our decision making before construction even begins.  The pillars of the PCMS are to plan for closure from the start, develop reasonable cost estimates, execute to plan, and maximize asset value. The PCMS incorporates the requirements of a number of foundational Barrick policies, procedures and guidelines, including the Corporate Social Responsibility Charter, the Environmental Management System, and the Community Relations Management System.

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 PCMS has been designed to reflect and adapt to changing conditions by imposing a disciplined approach to initial engineering, robust management of change, and periodic reassessments of our assumptions. 

It is not uncommon for our sites to pursue expansion opportunities as they approach the end of their permitted mine life.  If permitting is successful, and project economics justify expansion, this may delay closure. At the same time, they develop more detailed closure plans to be ready for any eventuality.

Managing Closed Sites

We manage 33 closure sites, including the recently closed Pierina mine in Peru. As part of our efforts to rationalize our portfolio of closure sites, Barrick signed sale agreements for one of our closure sites and signed option agreements to permit exploration at two of our sites in 2017.

Environmental Closure

Mine closure planning is an integral part of our commitment to environmental protection. During project development, closure planning is considered and mine closure plans are developed and submitted to regulatory scrutiny.

All 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).  Financial assurance instruments for final reclamation are also posted in accordance with applicable law. Barrick also includes closure cost estimates in its publicly available financial disclosures.

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) revegetate 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.

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 social 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.

Planning for Closure

Most social closure planning activities take place during development and operation and focus on promoting local capacity building.

 

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 our people 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 people who are not able to relocate.