10th International Conference on Mine Closure

June 1-3, 2015 | Vancouver, Canada


 Click to view complete conference program



The conference program included the following excellent keynote speakers:

Daryl Hockley, SRK, CanadaDaryl Hockley

Topic: Some History of Mine Closure

Mine closure, the idea. Where did it begin and how did we develop our current understanding of the associated technical, environmental and social challenges? This talk will present three histories of mine closure, developed using different methods and leading to somewhat different conclusions.  

The first history uses the normal method of historical research, review of primary and secondary written sources, and focuses on how competing resource uses and the development of environmental movements led to early mine closure legislation.

The second history addresses scientific and technical developments using a method known as bibliometric mapping. Over 4,000 technical references related to mine closure were collected and analyzed by a series of text-mining, statistical and graphical techniques. The results show the growth in the field, but also the shifts in emphasis from reclamation to closure, from the major element composition of affected waters to various minor and trace elements, and from bio-physical and chemical effects to socio-economic concerns.

The third history reviews the development of mine closure practices over the last twenty years. It draws on concept mapping exercises completed by mine closure experts in 1995 and again in 2005, as well as the speaker’s personal experience. It shows the shifts from isolated technical specialties to integrated teams, from mine closure planning to implementation, and from implementation to post-closure monitoring and maintenance.

Do these three histories together constitute a complete history? No. But they help to clarify what we all mean, or what each of us might mean, when we use the term “mine closure”.

About the presenter:

Daryl is a Practice Leader in the GeoEnvironmental Engineering Division of SRK Canada. He is a civil engineer with over 25 years of experience. His areas of practice include mine closure, tailings and waste management, and mine water management. He has carried out mine closure projects for over fifty mines in North America, South America, Europe, Australia, Asia and Africa.

Randy Knapp, SENES Consultants, Canada

Topic: Changing Water Treatment Standards and the Impact on Mine ClosureRandy Knapp

Effluent treatment standards are evolving with lower limits on conventional pollutants and the introduction of new parameters for control. Of specific note are requirements for sulphate and possibly TDS control. Not only do these represent material costs to existing mining operations, the ramification to mine closure and long term water treatment are even more significant. This presentation will review the implication of these new regulatory requirements with specific emphasis on how this could impact mine closure and long term costs.

About the presenter:

Mr. Randy Knapp was a founding partner of SENES Consultants in 1980 and worked with SENES as Vice president mining until semi-retirement in 2002. Since that time, Mr. Knapp has continued to provide specialist consultant services with a focus on mining projects. He has worked on projects in the base metal, iron ore, precious metal, asbestos, rare earth, industrial minerals, coal and uranium sectors across Canada and various parts of the world. Recent work has focused on environmental due diligence and peer review work for mining companies and government agencies.

 Mr. Knapp has authored over 50 technical papers relating to mining environmental practices focussing on acid rock drainage, mine water treatment and mine decommissioning.  Recent water treatment experience includes: preparation of a Mine Water Guidance Manual; peer review for TDS removal at a major international mine; peer review of water treatment needs for 2 major mine decommissioning projects.

Chief Clarence Louie, Osoyoos Indian Band, Canada

Topic: Making First Nations Part of the Mine Operations and ClosureChief Clarence Louie

About the presenter:

Since December 1984 when first elected as Chief of the Osoyoos Indian Band, part of the Okanagan Nation in south central British Columbia, Clarence Joseph Louie has consistently emphasized economic development as a means to improve his people’s standard of living. Under his direction (20+ years), the Band has become a multi-faceted corporation that owns and manages nine businesses and employs hundreds of people. In 1998 the Osoyoos Indian Band Development Corporation was formed to manage and provide strategic direction to the existing businesses and as well as seek out new economic opportunities. Other achievements under Chief Louie’s tenure include the negotiated settlement of three Specific Land Claims, the successful negotiation of over 1,000 acres of lease developments, the acquisition of hundreds of acres of land to add to the reserve, the purchase of a viable off-reserve business, the financing of a major golf course development, the initiation of the Osoyoos Indian Taxation By-law, the financing and building of a new pre-school/daycare and grade school/gymnasium, construction of a new Health Center/Social Services building and in 2008 the building of a 1st class Youth Centre. The Osoyoos Indian Band has modeled not only sustainable business development, but also socio-economic development, whereby the community’s social needs are improved. Chief Louie’s constant message is, “Socio-economic development is the foundation for First Nation self-reliance, our communities need to become business minded and begin to create their own jobs and revenue sources, not just administer under funded government programs. Each of our First Nations must take back their inherent and rightful place in the economy of their territory. Native people must change their mindset from; Spending Money To Making Money”. As confirmation of the Osoyoos Indian Band’s commitment to business, the Band owns and operates nine businesses on the reserve, including: vineyards, retail stores, a construction company, a Readi-Mix company, a championship golf course, eco-tourism businesses and activities in the Forest Division. In 2002 the Band opened the first Aboriginal winery in North America-Nk’Mip Cellars. The winery is a joint venture with Vincor International. Although economic development is the means to achieving self-sufficiency, Chief and Council continues to emphasize the importance of maintaining the Okanagan language and culture in all aspects of the band’s activities including business. The establishment of the Nk’Mip Desert& Cultural Center is a testament to this commitment of balancing business while investing time and money in culture. This eco-cultural center provides visitors an opportunity to experience the Okanagan culture and explore the desert lands that are a part of their traditional territory. The Nk’Mip Desert & Cultural Center is also an example of the continued growth of the band’s businesses.

Rick Siwik, Siwik Consulting Inc, Canada

Topic: Mine Closure – Past, Present and PerpetuityRick Siwik

Tailings facilities are designed to be are an integral part of a metallurgical process that may last only ten to twenty years. During this operating period, facilities are operated as water and tailings storage facilities. However, once  ore processing ceases, a tailings facility may continue to operate in perpetuity. Designing a tailings facility only for storage is an interesting paradox; facilities need to meet design requirements for short-term storage but must address disposal into perpetuity. This presentation explores the Canadian history of past storage practices for tailings and its impact on communities, First Nation and the natural environment. Historically, most tailings-related decisions were between mining companies and provincial governments representatives responsible for the promotion of mineral extraction. The history of tailings storage in Canada will be reviewed including the design and decision-making criteria for site selection, containment methodology and closure standards of the day.

Current processes for mine closure design are investigated from a regulatory, engineering, social and environmental impact, and financial and management perspective. Moving from the current standard of designing storage facilities to tailings disposal facilities in perpetuity is highlighted. Design for closure into perpetuity requires a design and management process for a facility goes beyond the traditional approach used to design tailings storage facility. A new paradigm will be introduced that challenges the mining industry to move from conceptual design of tailing and waste facilities to execution level closure plans. Rather than designing these sites for tailings storage, mining companies’ should design tailing facilities that accommodate final disposal and closure into perpetuity. This presentation explores both the management approval process and closure evaluation process to reduce the risks of closure. Establishing a more rigorous decision-making and project delivery process to design for closure will improve forecasting of planned decommissioning and restoration provisions and reduce perpetual closure risks.

About the presenter:

Rick Siwik has worked for over forty years in the mining industry with environmental experience in corporate governance, exploration, projects, operations and closure. He has worked at mining and metallurgical operations, at the Noranda Research Centre and in various corporate positions. He has developed corporate governance standards for industry and government, and led numerous environmental due diligence reviews for mining companies and consulting firms. Rick has worked on major international mining projects, and has executed several mine closures. He worked for Noranda Inc. for over thirty years and is now President of Siwik Consulting Inc. providing senior environmental advisory services to the mining industry, NGO’s and government.

Michael Davies, Teck Resources Limited, Canada

Topic: Teck – 100 Years of Sustainability – Focus: Water, Reclamation & ClosureMike Davies

Teck has been discovering and operating mines for 100 years.   Our people live in the areas where we operate, and we care about doing the right thing for our community, the environment and future generations.  To guide all of our actions, Teck established a comprehensive strategy with goals that stretch through to 2030 in areas that represent the most significant challenges and opportunities facing our company in the area of sustainability.   One such area is water which is fundamental to our ability to operate and to which we ascribe goals around use intensity, water quality and fair access to all potential users.   Further to Teck’s commitment to sustainability is our formal and robust management approach to our reclamation activities and our dormant/legacy properties.   Teck’s approach to water, reclamation and closure are briefly described as a window to our sustainability practices and how Teck is establishing the basis for operating for the next 100 years. 

About the presenter

Dr. Michael Davies is the Vice President Environment for Teck Resources.  Dr. Davies is a Geological Engineer with post-graduate degrees in Civil/Environmental Engineering.   He has been at Teck since early 2012. Prior to joining Teck, he spent over 25 years in consulting to the mining industry where he worked on assignments in more than 40 countries.  A good portion of that work involved tailings impoundments and/or mine waste dumps.   At Teck, Dr. Davies is the company’s Global Environmental Officer across all projects and operations as well as being the Executive in charge of the company’s legacy asset/dormant property file.  Dr. Davies has contributed more than 40 papers related to tailings and mine waste management and was recognized in 2000 with a CIM Distinguished Lecturer Award for his work in this area. 

Harley Lacy, MWH Global, Australia

Topic: Updating Australia’s Leading Practice Sustainable Development (LPSD) Mine Closure Handbook for 2015: Closing the Gaps and Understanding the Minerals Resource Legacy

Throughout 2014/15, with contributions from 13 highly competent sub-authors, the authors completed a major revision of the 2006 Mine Closure and Completion Handbook for the Australian Government. The original document went through a thorough gap analysis, with the intention being to close these gaps and bring advancing paradigms and ideas from a rapidly evolving mining industry into the handbook so that it truly represents current leading practice.

The 2015 Mine Closure Handbook (the handbook) introduces a number of aspects intrinsically linked to closure, including legal and regulatory requirements; cumulative impacts; impacts on local and regional biodiversity; climate change; post-mine land use opportunities; physical, chemical and geochemical characterisation of soils and mine wastes; and engineered landform design. Interaction and consultation with the community regarding closure during mining is considered integral throughout the handbook. The interrelationships of these aspects throughout the seven phases of the mining cycle are described in the handbook and now include post-closure management as a site moves toward post-mining land use and relinquishment.

This handbook introduces the mineral resource legacy framework for general discussion around the issue of legacy associated with the mineral industry, and the cyclical nature of mining and subsequent responsibilities in managing that legacy. The interrelationships in the discovery and utilisation of minerals involve mining companies, communities and government, and are represented simply in the framework.

About the presenter:

Harley was fortunate to be asked to be a co-author with Doug Koontz in the original 2002 Best Practice Manual for Mine Closure, and since then as a contributor to the Mine Closure and Tailings guidelines in the Australian Leading Practice Sustainable Development Program series. Harley co-ordinates projects across Australia in mine environmental management, mine approvals, waste landform design, rehabilitation techniques, general project planning, mine closure, tailings research and facility closure. He has presented regularly, and published in a variety of media, all as part of the journey of encouragement of the Mining Industry to continue to strive for continuous improvement in environmental management.


Successes and Challenges in Closure – Optimal Outcome for Communities

Tuesday, June 2 from 16:20 to 18:00

Facilitator: Michael van Aanhout, Stratos Inc., Canada


Larry Haber – Kimberley Citizen

Ben Chalmers – Mining Association of Canada, Towards Sustainable Mining

Harley Lacy – Closure Practitioner

TBC – Regulator

Jeff Parshley – Developing Countries

David Parker – Industry Experience

Communities around mines become the long-term neighbors of those closed mines. During design and implementation phases of mine closure, many decisions are made that will influence the outcome for these neighbouring communities. This panel discussion explored the successes and challenges in closure design and implementation from a wide range of perspectives: community, operating company, design consultants, regulators as well as specific issues in developing countries where site access control can be very challenging. Closure issues specific to perhaps the most challenging legacy item with many mines, tailings and other mine wastes, were highlighted during this conversation.  


Three short courses were offered prior to the Mine Closure 2015 conference.

Course 1: Natural Process for the Restoration of Drastically Disturbed Sites

Presented by: David Polster, Polster Environmental Services Ltd.

Natural processes have been “restoring” natural disturbances since the advent of terrestrial vegetation over 400 million years ago. This workshop explored how these natural processes, systems and functions can be used to restore sites that humans have disturbed such as large mines, industrial disturbances, landslides, shorelines and other disturbed sites. We looked at how natural systems address filters to recovery such as erosion and steep, unstable slopes and how we can design restoration treatments that address these filters. We explored the natural processes that provide nutrients and nutrient cycling capacity to ecosystems and how these can be re-established on drastically disturbed sites. In many cases restoration treatments based on these natural processes can be used to restore anthropogenic disturbances more easily and at a lower cost than traditional reclamation treatments. Examples were drawn from the experience (over 37 years) of the instructor in the mining and heavy construction industry.

View course brochure.

Course 2: Modeling Mine Site Hydrology in a Catchment Context

Presented by: Douglas Graham, DHI, Denmark.

This workshop delved into the basics of integrated hydrology and modeling at mine sites. We looked at the assumptions, limitations and practicalities of building and deploying a MIKE SHE model at your mine site. The workshop provided a lively forum for learning and debate.

View course brochure.

Course 3: Geotechnical Systems that Evolve with Ecological Process

Presented by: Mark Tibbett, University of Reading, UK; and Andy Fourie, University of Western Australia

Geotechnical systems, such as landfills, mine tailings storage facilities (TSFs), slopes, and levees, are required to perform safely throughout their service life, which can span from decades for levees to “in-perpetuity” for TSFs. The conventional design practice by geotechnical engineers for these systems utilizes the as-built material properties to predict its performance throughout the required service life. The implicit assumption in this design methodology is that the soil properties are stable through time. This is counter to long-term field observations of these systems, particularly where ecological processes such as plant, animal, biological, and geochemical activity are present. Plant roots can densify soil and/or increase hydraulic conductivity, burrowing animals can increase seepage, biological activity can strengthen soil, geochemical processes can increase stiffness, etc. The engineering soil properties naturally change as a stable ecological system is gradually established following initial construction, and these changes alter system performance. This course presented an integrated perspective and new approach to this issue, considering ecological, geotechnical, and mining demands and constraints. A series of data sets and case histories were utilized to examine these issues and to propose a more integrated design approach, and consideration was given to future opportunities to manage engineered landscapes as ecological systems. We propose that soil scientists and restoration ecologists must be engaged in initial project design and geotechnical engineers must be active in long-term management during the facility’s service life. For near-surface geotechnical structures in particular, this requires an interdisciplinary perspective and the embracing of soil as a living ecological system rather than an inert construction material.

View course brochure. This paper authored by DeJong, Tibbett and Fourie served as the foundation for this course.


Britannia Mine Museum and Epcor Water Treatment Plant Guided Tour

Thursday, June 4

Less than a hundred years ago, this was the largest copper mine in the British Empire. Today, it’s a National Historic Site and a bustling, award-winning Museum. The Britannia Mine Museum was established in 1971 to preserve the material and social history of mining in British Columbia, and to educate the public about mining. The Museum presents BC’s mining history and the mine’s successful environmental remediation from acid rock drainage pollutants

Britannia Mine Museum

Britannia Mine Museum

45-minute Mine Tunnel and Mill Guided Tour

You will go on a train ride into the early-haulage mine tunnel. The interpreter will explain the miners’ working conditions and demonstrate the drills and equipment that were used in the early 20th century. You will then continue into the Mill, an impressive structure with dramatic industrial interior, built into the mountain-side, one of the last gravity-fed Mills in North America. The interpreter will explain how the Mill operated, how rocks were transported and crushed, and how minerals were extracted.


Browse the exhibits around the site, including A-Z of Britannia, the 1908 Machine Shop, and the Minerals & Society exhibits in the Beaty Lundin Visitor Centre. Try gold panning and watch the informative 15-minute documentary Groundbreaking – The Britannia Story – in the Theatre.

Plant Tour Host

Plant Tour Host

Epcor Water Treatment Plant Tour

After the tour of the Museum, you will be brought to the Epcor Water Treatment Plant for a
30 minute behind-the-scenes tour. The tour will be from an operational point of view. You will be shown the following:

  • adit where the water is drawn from the mine (visual only)
  • turbine building
  • will follow the flow to the plant
  • use of lime and pH to metal removal
  • injection points of lime and plant flow
  • clarifier and sludge removal
  • filter press operation
  • sludge haul back to top of the mountain.

Personal Protective Equipment:

Hard hats, eye protection, and high visibility vests will be provided.

Other considerations:

  • Footwear must be sturdy, flat, and closed toed. The site has gravel areas and the mine tunnel floor can be damp.
  • Do not wear a skirt, scarf, or any lose clothing. Long sleeves and pants are required.
  • The mine tunnel is 12 degrees Celsius year-round. We recommend bringing a jacket or sweater.

Total tour duration (including return bus transportation): approx. 7 hours

Tentative Schedule

8:15 – check-in and signing of waivers
8:30 – departure from conference venue (Hyatt Regency Vancouver, Melville street side entrance)
9:30 – arrival at Britannia Mine Museum
10:00 – guided tour of underground mine and mill
11:00 to 1:00 – lunch and time on own to visit the exhibits on-site (lunch will be provided)
1:00 – depart Museum to go to Epcor water treatment plant
1:15 to 2:30 – Epcor guided tours
2:30 – head back to Vancouver
3:30 – drop-off at Hyatt hotel.

 Sullivan Mine Tour

Thursday, June 4

The Sullivan Mine is a historic underground lead-zinc-silver mine located in Kimberley, British Columbia.  The mine operated for 92 years from 1909 to 2001 and was one of the world’s largest producers of lead and zinc.  The mine closed in December 2001 due to the exhaustion of the ore body and has since undergone decommissioning, reclamation, extensive monitoring, water collection and treatment.  The tour will include a presentation of the history of the mine site and closure process, and a field tour of the reclaimed waste rock dumps and tailings impoundments, air monitoring conducted in the waste rock dumps, the acid rock drainage seepage collection and management system, and the recently built 1 MW SunMine solar farm located on Teck property.

Mark Creek BeforeMark Creek AfterDWTP #12010 View of Reclaimed Tailings Impoundments and ARD Storage Pond




Photographs courtesy of Teck.

Steel-toed boots are not mandatory but outdoor hiking-type rugged footwear is necessary. Please note that Teck will provide helmets and goggles but not footwear. Each participant must bring their own boots. Anyone without the appropriate footwear will not be allowed to participate in the tour.

Important note: This tour departs from Cranbrook, BC (airport code YXC) and each participant must buy their own ticket to this destination. Two airlines fly to Cranbrook – Air Canada and Pacific Coastal Airlines. Tickets are about $285 round trip. There are no other costs associated with this tour. Shuttle to/from the mine and lunch are proudly sponsored by Teck. Space on this tour is very limited!

Tour program:

Planes from Vancouver arrive at 11.21 am (AC) and 12:00 pm (PCA).

12:00-12:30         Shuttle to the Sullivan mine from Cranbrook airport

12:30-1:00           Safety and mine presentation

1:00-1:30              Lunch

1:30-4:00              Site tour

4:00-4:30              Shuttle back to Cranbrook airport.

Planes back to Vancouver depart at 5:10 pm (AC) and 5:40 pm (PCA).