Environmental Risk Assessment As The Basis For Mine Closure At Iscor Mining

Swart, S. J.
Organization: The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 6
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1998
This paper discusses the principles and application of risk assessment and management as the basis for environmental management within the mining industry. Unlike in other industries, mines are required to obtain closure certificates in terms of section12 of the Minerals Act, which should ultimately release them from further environmental responsibilities. It is emphasized that the concept of environmental risk assessment and management, when applied correctly will mean that the mine will be identifying and managing environmental issues beyond those set by current legal requirements and management strategies. The focus shifts from conventional minimum legal compliance management to management of real environmental risks. The advantage of this approach is that the perceived ?shifting of legal and management goal posts? due to changing environmental laws or management principles, will not influence or dictate the mine?s short or long-term management objectives or actions, mine closure funds can be more accurately determined and mine closure should become a relatively simple procedure. The risk assessment approach has been applied to the planning of mine closure at Iscor?s Durban Navigation Collieries (Durnacol) in Kwa-Zulu Natal and certain key risk issues such as the long-term risk of water pollution from coal discard dumps have already progressed to fully quantitative risk assessment. This paper will discuss the process, which has been followed to date, with particular emphasis on the most recent phase, namely quantitative risk assessment and management of pollution from coal discard dumps. It is believed that the approach that is being pioneered at Durnacol and which overcomes some of the more obvious deficiencies of both the EMPR and the traditional IEM process will ultimately serve as the model for all responsible mines in South Africa. It is also believed that this approach will enable the authorities to issue closure certificates with the confidence that there will be no unforeseen surprises in the years after closure.
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