KOLKATA (miningweekly.com) – India’s Mines Ministry has started engagements with industry stakeholders to develop a time-bound action plan for remediation of mined-out areas and abandoned mines across the country.
In a note circulated to mining industry stakeholders, the Ministry said that mined-out areas and abandoned mines contributed to a legacy of environmental degradation, led by historic mining activities, which occurred before mine closure regulations were developed and put into effect.
It noted that the Mineral Conservation and Development Rules of 2003, which aimed to ensure the closure of mines in a systematic manner with adequate financial safeguards, had contributed towards the prevention of further environmental degradation, but stated that fresh initiatives, including adequate funding options, were needed to negate legacy impacts.
Hence, the Ministry has initiated a joint consultative process in conjunction with Indian Bureau of Mines, the Energy and Resource Institute and provincial governments to frame a time-bound action plan for the mining industry.
This collaborative initiative would also aim to compile of database of all known abandoned mines and inactive mining sites, including geographical details, identification of problems of each abandoned mine and remediation scheme and a determination of the funding requirement of each of these schemes and their options for meeting these expenses.
All stakeholders, including industry, provincial governments, domain consultants, research and academia and government-owned mining companies that have done mining remediation research, have been asked to submit their respective plans to the Ministry.
It was pointed out that the largest number of mine closure plans concluded and approved were those under Coal India Limited (CIL). The company had identified 476 mines for closure and has set aside $649-million to fund remediation work and to implement rehabilitation schemes for these areas. The Central Mine Planning and Design Institute, the consulting arm of CIL, had framed the mine closure and remediation plans.
The Mines and Coal Ministries were also working towards putting in play third-party audits once each mine closure plan was completed. Such audits would assesses work done on key elements, like restoration of water resources for drinking and irrigation purposes, and the level of forestry achieved post closure of mines, comparing it to comparable data available prior to the start of mining operations.
Key governmental and nongovernmental organisations, like technical institutes, engineering colleges and forest and water resource institutes, would be designated as authorised third-party auditors.