Mine Site Closure and Reclamation at Goldcorp
Mining is a dirty job but mine reclamation shouldn’t be. We speak to Goldcorp about its Corporate Social Responsibility Plan and sustainable development objectives
Mine site closure and reclamation is a critical element of mining and requires an immense amount of planning, design, and implementation for success. Because a mine begins to close the day it opens, decisions are made before, during and after the life of the mine to develop the best, and most cost-effective, way of closing a site and bringing the landscape back to life.
On the forefront of mine closure and reclamation is Goldcorp Inc. The Canadian company has built a solid reputation by implementing policies that consider its Corporate Social Responsibility Plan as well as its sustainable development objectives. When closing a site, Goldcorp strives to aid local communities in bringing the transition from mine operations to post mining, and to plan for the socio-economic challenges that may result from the termination of mine operations.
Understanding the process
From the earliest stage of a mine’s lifecycle, Goldcorp plans to open and close the mine in the most feasible and responsible way. All of the company’s operations have closure plans in place, designed to prevent long term adverse impacts on the environment and the surrounding communities. These plans are reviewed annually to ensure they remain current and reflect any changes that may have occurred over the previous 12 months. Because each mine site is different, each closure plan is unique in its own way, customized for the community and surrounding area it’s located in.
The company is committed to closing mines in a sustainable manner. The goal is to establish healthy ecosystems, a productive land use, and sustainable socio-economic conditions following the closure of a mine.
To do so, Goldcorp works with communities and collaborates during the life of the mine to identify and support community development projects that are sustainable, have community ownership, and can be run independently of the mine in the long term. The company works to remediate damaged lands from mining operations and has invested substantial funds into transforming closed mine sites into flourishing habitat for both local communities and wildlife.
A prime example can be seen at Goldcorp’s Porcupine mine located in Ontario, Canada. The award-winning reclamation project included the use of biosolids as a cover and wild grasses to promote a self-sustaining environment. This in return attracted wildlife, including several black bears and the increased number of bee colonies, spawning a local honey industry.
Goldcorp’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) team is responsible for improving the consistency and effectiveness of its activities, while remaining sensitive to the unique aspects of each area’s social, political, economic, and cultural environment, The company’s CSR objective is to apply this policy framework across all of its organizations, and to expand and improve on it as it applies to each individual program or initiative.
Examples of Goldcorp’s CSR plan in place can be seen at its former San Martin mine in Honduras. What used to be a mining camp is now the San Martin Ecology Center, a 31-room, eco-tourism themed hotel with a restaurant, swimming pool and other amenities that provide citizens of the area with lasting economic benefits and self-sufficiency.
The reclaimed site is also thriving with agri-businesses. Goldcorp has supported the hiring and training of local people in chicken and hog farming, growing of lemons, oranges and mangos, as well as indigenous plants that are a source of biofuel. In addition, farmers are now cultivating biofuel seed crops to widen the circle of sustainability for generations to come.
Sustainable development plans
Goldcorp is also involved in a wide range of sustainable development plans. The company is committed to making a positive difference in the communities in which it operates. Through economic contributions, community involvement, community consultation, support of health and education, and the sponsorship of special events, Goldcorp is making an enormous difference in the lives of people and communities around the world.
At the company’s Marlin mine in Guatemala, the company collaborated with the Citizen’s Development Corps to create the Fundación Sierra Madre. The mission of the foundation is to initiate and implement sustainable, community-based development and capacity-building programs in the municipalities of San Miguel Ixtahuacán and Sipacapa.
Managed and staffed by Guatemalans, the foundation has become an important part of the local community. The foundation has also involved a variety of infrastructure development including; more than 100 construction projects including schools, computer labs and recreation halls; medical centers and equipment; vocational classrooms for electrical and automotive training; as well as daycare facilities.
Although mining is a dirty job requiring massive amounts of land to be disrupted, Goldcorp is a prime example of how companies can actually improve the surrounding areas as well as helping to bring a better future for local communities.
Global iron ore production to recover by 5.1% in 2021
Global iron ore production fell by 3% to 2.2bnt in 2020. Global production is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.7% to 2,663.4Mt between 2021 to 2025. The key contributors to this grow will be Brazil (6.2%), South Africa (4.1%), Australia (3.2%) and India (2.9%). Key upcoming projects expected to commence operations include South Flank in Australia (2021), Zulti in South Africa (H2 2021), Serrote Da Laje in Brazil (H2 2021) and Gudai-Darri (2022), according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
Vinneth Bajaj, Associate Project Manager at GlobalData, comments: “Declines from Brazil and India were major contributors to the reduced output in 2020. Combined production from these two countries fell from a collective 638.2Mt in 2019 to an estimated 591.1Mt in 2020. The reduced output from the iron ore giant, Vale, was the key factor behind Brazil’s reduced output, while delays in the auctioning of mines in Odisha affected India’s output in 2020.
“Miners in Australia were relatively unaffected by COVID-19 due to effective measures adopted by the Australian Government, while a speedy recovery in China led to a significant 10.4% increase in the country’s iron ore output.”
Looking ahead, the global iron ore production is expected to increase by 111.3Mt to 2,302.5Mt in 2021. Rio Tinto is expected to produce up to 340Mt of iron ore, while BHP has released production guidance of 245–255Mt, supported by the start of the Samarco project in December, which is expected to produce between 1–2Mt.The company has retained its guidance for Australian mines at 276–286Mt on a 100% basis, due to scheduled maintenance work at its ore handling plant and tie-in activity at the Area C mine and South-Flank mine.
Bajaj added: “The remaining companies are expected to produce more than 600Mt of iron ore, including FMG, whose production is expected to range between 175–180Mt supported by its Eliwana mine that commenced operations in late December 2020, and Anglo American, which is expecting to produce between 64–67Mt. Vale is expected to resume 40Mt of its production capacity, taking its overall production capacity to 350Mt in 2021, with production guidance of 315-335Mt.”