CSIRO report reveals pathways to sustainable mine closures and economic growth in Australia


Australia has a unique billion-dollar opportunity to create a new industry to support mine closures and transitions, generating employment opportunities for regional and Indigenous communities, according to a new report developed by the national science agency, CSIRO.

New insights drawn from mining industry databases and CSIRO analysis project an annual expenditure exceeding $4 billion on mine closure and rehabilitation activities, as around 240 Australian mines approach closure by 2040.

These closures generate a growing demand for innovative solutions and technologies capable of leading mines towards closure, while addressing the associated diverse environmental, social, and economic challenges.

The report ‘Enabling Mine Closure and Transitions: Opportunities for Australian Industry’ was delivered for the Cooperative Research Centre for Transformations in Mining Economies (CRC TiME).

It explores opportunities for Australian businesses to provide solutions to the challenges posed by mine closures, such as equipment, technology, and services.

Dominic Banfield, Senior Manager in CSIRO Futures and lead author of the report, emphasised the continued critical role of mining in Australia’s economy, contributing to jobs and essential minerals for the country’s energy transition and net-zero emissions goals by 2050.

“With thousands of active and inactive mines in Australia, the demand for mine closure solutions will only increase as we seek to ensure positive closures and to transition regions to successful post-mining futures,” Mr Banfield said.

The report identified opportunities across four categories of mine closure solutions:

  1. Engagement and partnership: Solutions that enable effective engagement, co-design, and mutually beneficial partnerships to improve social performance and reduce risks.
  2. Waste reduction and recovery: Solutions enabling cost-effective reduction, reuse, and recycling of mine waste to minimise closure liabilities.
  3. Mine rehabilitation: Solutions improving the performance and cost-effectiveness of mine rehabilitation activities.
  4. Land use transitions: Solutions addressing challenges in establishing post-closure land uses to generate lasting economic, social, or environmental value.

Dr. Guy Boggs, Chief Executive Officer of CRC TiME, underscored the additional social, economic, and environmental value stemming from a mine closure solutions industry.

“The report’s comprehensive mapping highlights opportunities in engagement and partnership, waste reduction and recovery, mine rehabilitation, and land use transitions, showcasing the diverse spectrum of possibilities,” Dr Boggs said.

“Looking ahead, we believe Australia can harness its domestic mine challenge to emerge as a global leader in cutting-edge mine closure solutions.”

Read the full report, Enabling Mine Closure and Transitions: Opportunities for Australian Industry.

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