African delegation takes part in mine closure course

Visitors tour mine sites during four-week stay in Perth
Date: Thursday, 28 July 2016

Western Australia’s regulatory framework for mine closure and rehabilitation was showcased during a visit last week by 25 delegates from 14 African nations.

The visitors were taking part in a seven-week international short course on Mine Closure funded through the Australian Government as part of the Australia Awards scholarships and fellowships program.

African delegation takes part in mine closure course
Mine closure short course delegates at the Pro-Force abandoned mine site near Coolgardie.

The Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP) was actively involved in the course delivered by Murdoch University in collaboration with Curtin University, The University of Western Australia, and North West University in Potchefstroom, South Africa.

“The course exposed participants to cutting edge practice in socially and environmentally responsible mining,” DMP Environment Executive Director Dr Phil Gorey said.

Dr Gorey, who joined the delegates on a tour of mine sites facilitated by DMP, said the course had been tailored for mid-career mining professionals from Africa working for government, industry and non-government organisations.

“The training course is designed to develop understanding of mine closure planning and implementation across the life cycle of mining activity,” he said.

“Western Australia is well-placed for the course to be delivered, given its leading practice in the regulation of mine closure.”

Aspects of the regulatory structure that formed part of the course include:

  • The integration of mine closure planning in the whole-of-mine life cycle (joint DMP and EPA Mine Closure Plan Guidelines)
  • The strategic management of abandoned mines (through the DMP Abandoned Mines Policy)
  • Strong mining securities through the Mining Rehabilitation Fund

The visiting government and environmental regulators came from Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Guinea.

Dr Gorey said that the delegation’s four-week stay in Western Australia coincided with preparations for Africa Down Under, the annual Africa resources conference to be held in Perth at the beginning of September.

“DMP has built strong ties with Africa underpinned by a Memorandum of Understanding signed between Western Australia and the 19-member regional trading bloc, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), in January 2014,” Dr Gorey said.

“We’re working with African nations to develop their mining laws, tenement systems, and environmental and safety standards to levels similar to those in Western Australia.”

While in Western Australia, the delegation toured Hanson’s Gaskell basic raw materials mine in northern metropolitan Perth, Tronox’s Coojarloo mineral sands operations and Newmont’s Boddington gold mine.

“The delegates greatly appreciated the companies’ involvement and being able to see leading practice in mine closure in action and to discuss the integration of mine closure planning directly with industry,” Dr Gorey said.

Dr Gorey also joined the visitors for a tour of the Pro-Force abandoned mine site near Coolgardie now being made safe and rehabilitated through the Mining Rehabilitation Fund.

A second three-week part of the course will take place in South Africa in November.