Remediation of mines
According to the law, open pit and underground mines must undergo land reclamation and remediation by the mining operator post-mining activities. To ensure that there is sufficient money for the land reclamation and remediation work, the mining operator provides a financial security bond that is managed by the supervisory authority.
When a mining operation, or parts of a mining operation, has been concluded, land reclamation and remediation measures must be undertaken for the purpose of protecting nature and environment. Remediation involves several steps, including cleaning up and decommissioning the mining area or taking care of waste to minimize discharges over time.
The extent or cost of the land reclamation and remediation depends to a large extent on the materials being mined. In simple terms, mines and mineral processing with a certain amount of sulphide minerals generally require more extensive remediation measures compared to other mining and mineral processing. This is because some sulphide minerals easily oxidise in contact with oxygen, which can result in acidic, metal-bearing water that is at risk to be released in nature. Due to problems with the weathering and oxidation of sulphide minerals, mining waste containing sulphide minerals is often covered with dense layers of soil or water, so as to limit the availability of oxygen.
The objective of land reclamation and remediation is to create a long-term stable solution that will avoids exposing nature or humans to environmental risks. In some cases, land reclamation can be done with a focus on the goal of re-establishing the original condition (pre-mining), such as a forest. If possible, the operator can setup a facility that will have some value for the local community, such as a golf course or a park, if the geology allows this. However, the land can never be fully restored to its original condition.
Different techniques and technologies are used to mitigate discharges of metals or substances that may pose a risk for environment. These are described in a land reclamation and remediation plan developed by the mining operator in collaboration with the supervisory authority. It is the mining operator who is responsible for carrying out the land reclamation and remediation related to the operations. To ensure that there is sufficient money for the land reclamation and remediation work, the operator provides a financial security bond that is managed by the supervisory authority. Financial security often consists of a bank guarantee, as a kind of insurance. The amount is determined during the review for the processing of the environmental permit. The mining operator must update its waste management plan and land reclamation/remediation plan, and thus also the financial security, every five years. Financial security can be adjusted if the waste management is to be altered.
Last reviewed 2022-06-17