Closure of mining sites: How is the process carried out in Chile?

In recent decades, the Chilean regulations that oversee the closure of the sites – from their chemical and physical stabilization – have become stricter. In 2012, a commitment was implemented to include environmental preservation after the end of their useful life.

In other chapters of Mining 360 we have learned about the processes being carried out at various sites in the country, with the aim of mitigating their environmental impact in the area where they are located. Now, we will learn about the closure process, a process that has become increasingly strict in recent decades, with the aim of ensuring guarantees of protection for the community.

Until 1994, in our country there was no legal norm that stipulated regulations for the closure of mining sites, we had to wait years, until 2011, when the environmental law 19.300 began to be used to monitor the cessation of activities of Mina El Indio or Mina Lo Aguirre, for example.

“Mining was probably the first productive sector to incorporate environmental standards (…) When the company approached closure two years before at least it had to present its closure plan,” said Juanita Galaz, executive director of Mining and Environment MYMA.

A year later, in 2012, environmental preservation began to be a requirement in site closure plans, a document that must be submitted to Sernageomin’s Office of Environmental Management and Closure of Mining Sites two years in advance.

“In 2012, Law 20.551 began to operate, which requires an initial closure plan and a guarantee that assures the Treasury of compliance with these obligations. It ceases to be a single promise or a single intention of the mining company, but rather it must commit to the fulfillment of that closure plan through those guarantees,” Alfonso Domeyko, national director of Sernageomin, explained to Minería 360.

This regulation establishes the monetary guarantees for the termination of the deposit, as well as the mitigation of the negative effects caused to the industry in the community where it is located.

But, what happens with tailings?

In relation to tailings, as a measure to prevent water from collecting at the bottom of the pit, a series of measures must be established to prevent the creation of acidic water from developing and reaching the groundwater, eventually contaminating it.

“When we talk about the impacts of mine closure we have to consider this whole direct and indirect chain and its impacts. It is not only about physically closing, the solution would point to a joint work between mining company, communities and governments that projects what is built during the operation to a later stage”, indicated Juan Carlos Guajardo, executive director Plusmining.

Source: CNN Chile