Services provider able to help industry alleviate delays

14th April 2023

By: Cameron Mackay

Creamer Media Senior Online Writer


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The red tape associated with local mine closures creates a daunting task for South African mining companies, states mine closure services provider Greenmined Environmental MD Sonette Smit.

The existing legislation is meant to assist miners with yearly rehabilitation, as well as final rehabilitation, decommissioning and closure at the end of the life of operations.

“Even with this in place and in full compliance thereof, the actual closure application process at the relevant competent authorities is becoming close to impossible and can take years to complete.”

As a result, many mining areas are left unrehabilitated, as the cost and effort involved to close the site and the time to receive a closure certificate from the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) exceeds the rehabilitation guarantee that is in place.

Further, legislation compels miners to include formal mine closure and rehabilitation plans as part of the environmental authorisation.

These plans help with ongoing yearly rehabilitation to minimise the environmental impact, as well as reduce the cost of final rehabilitation, decommissioning and closure at the end of mine operations.

“These plans are used to monitor the mine throughout the life-of-mine (LoM) to update the final rehabilitation, as well as the funding necessary for the mine closure.”

Smit points out that current legislation also provides timeframes for closure applications, to be submitted at the end of an operation’s life.

However, there are no timeframes in place for the actual processing and decision- making for such applications, she contends, which results in pending closure applications for multiple years.

Smit notes that the approval time of mine closure applications with the DMRE, in particular, is “the largest challenge and frustration to any mining company”.

To help clients mitigate these delays, Greenmined engages with stakeholders and other roleplayers during the decision- making phase of the closure application to provide the relevant competent authority with all the necessary input to seamlessly process closure applications.

“Closure plans are to be followed throughout the LoM when planning rehabilitation, and provision must be made to meet the costs associated with rehabilitation. This is then monitored throughout the mining period and done as part of progressive rehabilitation, as opposed to starting rehabilitation processes at the end of the LoM.”

As a specialist in the quarry industry, Smit says that, in this sector, miners are looking to conduct progressive rehabilitation to reduce the amount of rehabilitation required at a later stage.

Consequently, the rehabilitation plan and the documents tracking the progress of the rehabilitation are updated on a yearly basis and submitted to the relevant competent authority.

The exorbitant cost of one-off rehabilitation, and the time required for the actual closure of the entire site, if not done through the required process, play a significant role in these trends, she adds.

Greenmined provides monitoring services, and assists mines with yearly reports of mine rehabilitation plans, as well as the financial provision calculations, which are also conducted yearly.

“Greenmined provides services from the application phase to the mine closure phase. We not only focus on the report writing during the application stage but also monitor the ongoing rehabilitation to minimise the impact on the environment, as well as the costs involved, should an entire site be rehabilitated only at the end of the LoM,” Smit concludes.

Edited by Nadine James
Features Deputy Editor


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