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ENVIRONMENTAL FRAMEWORK FOR MINE SITE CLOSURE IN KENYA

This project is prepared by Reagan Nawino and Marcellah Ojiambo. It has been presented at the regional conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on August 22nd, 2019.

The change project

Kenya is endowed with many mineral resources both metallic and non-metallic with their exploitation yet to reach peak level. It is anticipated that the quality of the environment needs to be maintained as the utmost critical issue for the local community while undertaking the mining operations in a safe and pleasant living environment by the mine owners.

National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), recognizes that there is need for ecological restoration at the end of a mine life by the mining operators with a view to ecological sustainability and the prevention of substantial environmental mutilation. As such mine site closure planning should be part of the mining sector objectives to ensure sustainability during the exploitation of the available resources. The lack of undertaking mine closure activities has negatively affected the sector by portraying it in a negative light to the community due to the abandoned mines which often leave scars on the environment. This results into endangerment of the community life and property hence oppositions to any new mining developments due to the bad practices. Thus, the need for the development of a framework for mine site closure which will help the sector players to undertake their activities through viable and practicable manner in an environmentally sustainable way for self-sustaining ecosystems.

The Environmental Framework for mine site closure is a general guide and NOT a detailed specific guideline for a particular mining sector. It is a living document that will undergo review, development and continuous improvement, from time to time with focus on the emerging issues during mines site closure. It is anticipated that both NEMA and County Governments’ will develop complementary regulations and guidelines to further advance the process of effective mine closure to ensure a clean and healthy environment for all.

 

Significance for the people and the environment

The overall objective of the mine site closure plan is to assist the mining operators, the ESIA experts, private sector, CSOs and lead agencies in ensuring that the mining sites are decommissioned and closed properly after the cessation of the mining operations. This will ensure that the environment is protected and the public health and safety is certain through the elimination of adverse environmental effects as a result of the mining activities. Thus, establishing conducive conditions that are consistent with the agreed upon after use plans objectives hence enhanced monitoring mechanisms in the mining site area.

This will promote good governance and best practices in the sector through meaningful engagement between the mine owners, the regulator (National Environmental Management Authority), the lead agencies, the County Governments’ and Communities in a transparent manner while taking into consideration of the environmental sustainability and protection of human rights.

 

Results and achievments

The change project participants managed to come up with a draft Environmental Framework for Mine Site Closure. This document will be used by the Authority and the relevant lead agencies in undertaking reviews of submitted closure plans and monitoring of the closure process. The mine owners are also expected to use this framework in the preparation of their mine closure plans as well as during the mine closure process for monitoring purposes.

The participants have managed to ensure that the Authority’s staff and relevant lead agencies are more aware of the importance of the need for mine site closures and the impacts of none closed mines has to the environment and the people. The participants have also managed to ensure that NEMA and other relevant lead agencies are able to and can contribute to the development of this draft environmental framework on mine site closure to ensure comprehensiveness and collective ownership of the document.

A technical team within the Compliance and Enforcement department has been constituted to further the discussion on Mine Site closure and come up with a comprehensive guidelines based on the draft environmental framework that the participants came up with. This is to be handled in the new financial year (2019/2020) and beyond.

 

The way forward

To ensure that the draft environmental framework is finalised and published as anticipated, there is need to:

  • Undertake three (3) regional meetings in mining areas, if possible, with the relevant stakeholders for further discussions and enriching of the draft document (Depending on the availability of funds).
  • Further the discussion on Mine Site closure and come up with a comprehensive guideline based on the draft environmental framework by the technical team within the Compliance and Enforcement department.

 

Impact and follow-up: the participants are of the opinion that the final impact the implementation of the draft environmental framewrok for mine site closure is that it will ensure that, any mine in Kenya is decommissioned, rehabilitated and closed in a well-planned process that enables ecological sustainability and protection of the human health in line with the agreed after use plans without passing over the liability to the Government and the local community.

Self-evaluation: the participants of the ITP:308 Mine Water and Mine Waste Management believe that the course enhanced their skills in the mining sector in terms of the ESIA reviews, undertaking of site visits and montiroing exercises, critiquing of various mining documents and having enhanced ablility in coming up with implementable technical document in the mining sector. The course is worthwhile and the Kenyan participants would not hesitate to recommend it to any interested person(s) or institutions in undergoing through the same training.

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