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Mine closure and asset transfer

Planning for mine closure starts at the exploration stage. We aim to leave post-mining communities with a sustainable socio-economic future.

While a mine is operational, its social and environmental performance should always be closely aligned with the implementation of a mine closure plan. Our Environmental Policy and Lifecycle Planning and Management Standard require all operations to have adequately detailed and funded closure plans. We are committed to adopting the mitigation hierarchy approach at every stage of the mining lifecycle – from exploration to closure and rehabilitation. We endeavour first to avoid, then minimise, and finally rehabilitate the environmental impact of our activities to leave a minimal residual impact.

The ideal process is that closure plans are developed in partnership with local stakeholders over the life of the operation and become increasingly detailed as the operation reaches the final five years of operation. All closure plans address environmental, physical and social issues and are developed in accordance with the Anglo American Mine Closure Toolbox.

All our operations have closure plans. The level of detail of each closure plan is dependent on the remaining life of mine. The table below shows the status of our closure plans based on each mine’s remaining life of mine. Exploration operations have Environmental Management Plans that cover closure of the exploration sites.

Our Victor mine in Canada is due to close in 2019, followed by the Voorspoed mine in South Africa in 20201. Focus has therefore intensified on the mines’ closure plans, with full reviews of both being undertaken during 2016.

At Victor, we have developed a native seed collection, propagation and planting programme to help ensure that the best possible rehabilitation of the site ultimately contributes to a positive legacy for the mine.

This is proving an extremely valuable exercise in taking community relationships to a new level, through partnering, building knowledge and developing the local workforce. To make it work, we are engaging closely with the Attawapiskat community.

In parallel, a youth programme is giving local indigenous high-school students planning, teamwork, plant identification and outdoor skills.

At Voorspoed, meanwhile, we have been involved in long-term discussions about the mine’s end-use. Two opportunities look to be particularly suitable – livestock farming and mixed game ranching. Both have the potential to be at the heart of an effective future plan for the local area, one that gives our existing employees new skills and opportunities.

1 For further information refer to the Anglo American Ore Reserves and Mineral Resources Report 2016.

Status of closure planning for mining operations, 2016

Production phase – life of mine to scheduled closure and closure plan level of detail

Closure phase

>25 years

25–15 years

15–10 years

10–5 years

5–0 years

0–10 years

Preliminary closure plan

Preliminary closure plan

Draft closure plan

Detailed closure plan

Final closure plan

Final closure plan

  • Venetia

 

  • Orapa
  • Letlhakane
  • Damtshaa
  • Jwaneng
  • Namdeb – land
  • Namdeb - marine
  • Gahcho Kué
  • Snap Lake

 

  • Victor
  • Voorspoed
  • TheOaks
  • Namaqualand

 

Extending mine life

Closure is not always the only or preferable option. Wherever possible, we prefer to sell an asset to other operators with the technical and financial experience to create value, extend the productive life of the mine and consequently prolong socio-economic benefits for the community.

Our conditions of sale include employment creation, community support and environmental rehabilitation. In South Africa, we also require equity ownership by Black Economic Empowerment groups.

In recent years, we have sold several late-life mines. Most recently, in early 2016, we sold Kimberley Mines in South Africa to Ekapa Minerals, a local tailing mineral resource operator with sound technical, financial and economic capability.

Transferring town management

In some cases, particularly in remote areas, towns were developed in order to serve the needs of the mining operations and remain actively managed by the mining company. As closure approaches, there is a need to transfer responsibility for infrastructure and public services to the relevant government authorities.

An example is Koingnaas in South Africa’s Namaqualand. Following many years of planning, the once privately owned mine town was officially handed over to the local municipality in 2016. The municipality will now operate all public assets and residential services, and all De Beers employees who previously provided services to the town have transferred to the municipality.

In Namibia, we are working with Oranjemund Town Council to transfer municipal services from the company to the town council and to move property, currently owned by Namdeb, into private ownership.

In Botswana, we are planning for the eventual economic diversification of Orapa town in partnership with local and national government bodies. The plan is aligned with the development priorities of the Botswana Government, and will detail a long-term vision for the area around the Orapa mine, focusing on its potential as a tourism hub and centre for light industry.