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Introduction Purpose Project Methodology Project Outcomes Publications Researchers

Driving policy in mine closure and abandonment management, environmental risk mitigation, and rehabilitation of abandoned mine sites as a pro-poor development strategy

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Download Mine Closure Policy Document (PDF)


Increasing mineral extraction in a growing number of African countries calls for more creative management of rehabilitation and decommissioning of mine sites and the affected environs. This requires effective and in-built capacity for regulation, policy, and securities mechanisms to address mine rehabilitation and abandonment. Murdoch University has received funding through the Australian Development Research Awards Scheme (ADRAS) to explore these issues and in particular examine if recent legislative and regulatory changes in Australia (Western Australia in particular) has relevance for African country policy makers.


The history of mining is replete with abandoned mining endeavours for a variety of reasons including: ore body depletion, commodity price fluctuations, operating costs variability, ore grade revisions, and government instability, among others. Without adequate advance planning for mine closure, communities and nations are left with significant on-going environmental challenges and mitigation obligations. Additionally, the social impacts of mine closure have a profound effect on communities unable to diversify during the 'life of mine' period, leaving them vulnerable and in some cases worse off.

The International Study Group Report on Minerals and Africa's Development observed that assessing and regulating impacts have not progressed in many African countries. Applying environmental management tools requires skills, technologies, and financial inputs that in a number of countries are inadequate. Furthermore, emerging extractive countries in Africa commonly have bonding legislation, but do not have any enforcement structures or adequate capacity with regard to environmental monitoring or assessment. The purpose of the project is to address the currently neglected area of mine abandonment and closure in an African context, and is aligned to the goals of the 2011 'Action Plan for Implementing the AMV of the AU'.

The Project:

The project seeks to address these fundamental concerns by assessing how Western Australia's (WA) on-going innovation in this area may benefit other mining regions, with the collaboration of leading experts from a range of selected institutions in Africa and Australia.

Project objectives:

  • Determine what regulation, policy and securities systems exist for managing mine closure and minimising risks of enduring harm in South Africa, Nigeria, Mozambique, Ghana, Zambia, Kenya, and Tanzania (selected countries that have both large abandoned mine legacy issues and/or are emerging extractive-intensive countries);
  • Determine the current environmental and health risks and costs associated with selected abandoned mines in the mature and emerging extractive-focussed countries;
  • Ascertain how reforms and environmental closure standards can attract and retain mining investment, benefiting mining companies, governments, and communities, and improving the interdependent security of all three (as a global mining sector model).


  • Collate data regarding regulatory, policy and securities systems for mine closure management and minimising risks in South Africa, Nigeria, Mozambique, Ghana, Zambia, Kenya, and Tanzania. Basic method: interviews, surveys, and reviews developed in consultation with relevant ministries.
  • Undertake selected environmental, health risks, and cost/impact assessments and reporting for selected abandoned mines. Basic method: use Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) objectives and principles (both for the mine site and the public), which are consistent with the approach considered by the Ministers of the Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council (ANZECC). The selected cost assessment is underpinned by cost-benefit analysis (CBA) methods to quantify the net cost/benefit of a mine site compared with a specified baseline(s), incorporating directly attributable cash costs incurred with intangible costs identified and at a minimum described.
  • Estimate the financial impact (and associated complexities) of an equivalent 'Mining Rehabilitation Fund Act 2013' within the context of selected countries, and associated concerns and governance considerations. This will require a parallel focus on local governance structure and capacity to develop, modify, and administer mine site rehabilitation and site closure regulations, policies, and securities mechanisms. Basic methods: financial modelling, interviews, surveys, reviews, and expert advisory sessions will likely be required on a flexible, 'fit for purpose' case.
  • Undertake reviews, surveys and interviews of appropriate representatives in the large scale mining sector (particularly selected international companies). Assess their perspectives on regulatory, policy, and securities for mine closure and associated management, and how they may generate positive outcomes (in terms of both financial and corporate social responsibility elements, directly and indirectly). Basic methods: literature reviews, interviews, financial model analysis, and surveys.
  • Preparation, publication, and dissemination of information, results and assessments, reviews, and analyses. Direct communication through substantial networks of Murdoch University, AM4DC, ATPS, Logic by Nature Environmental, etc., journals and conferences.

Project Outcomes:

  • Country specific reports (of selected countries).
  • Completed detailed EIAs and CBAs quantifying and qualifying selected abandoned mine sites collated to inform policy makers and the international community.
  • Analysis and review of the elements of innovative WA Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP) legislation (and the preconditions necessary) for appropriate adaptation for selected countries. Also reported financial estimates of the applicability (and associated complexities) of selected local iterations of the WA Mining Rehabilitation Fund Act, and associated considerations.
  • A consolidated framework that can be replicated by any country (with a proviso for modifications taking into account specific local conditions or circumstances).


Peer-reviewed conference papers:

1. Morrison-Saunders, A and J Pope (2013).
Mine closure planning and social responsibility in Western Australia – recent policy innovations, in 2nd International Conference on Social Responsibility in Mining, Nov 5-8 2013, Santiago, Chile.

2. Gorey P, A Morrison-Saunders, D Doepel, H Mtegha and MP McHenry (2014).
Dealing with mining legacies: from bonds to a central mining rehabilitation fund in Western Australia, in: I.M. Weiersbye, A.B. Fourie, M. Tibbett and K. Mercer (eds) Mine Closure 2014 Proceedings, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.

3. Morrison-Saunders A, P Gorey, D Doepel, H Mtegha and MP McHenry (2014).
Enhancements in mine closure planning in Western Australia and possible applications for Africa, in: I.M. Weiersbye, A.B. Fourie, M. Tibbett and K. Mercer (eds) Mine Closure 2014 Proceedings, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.

Published and peer-reviewed papers:

  1. Morrison-Saunders A, MP McHenry, JA Wessels, AR Sequeira; H Mtegha & D Doepel (2015), Planning for artisanal and small-scale mining during EIA: exploring the potential, The Extractive Industries and Society, 2(4): 813–819.
  2. McHenry MP, A Morrison-Saunders, P Gorey, AR Sequeira, H Mtegha & D Doepel (2015) Puzzled: navigating extractives policy information jigsaws for best practice and transparency. The Extractive Industries and Society. 2(3) 401-405.

Alberts, R., Wessels, J.A., Morrison-Saunders, A., McHenry, M.P., Rita Sequeira, A., Mtegha, H. and Doepel, D.(2017)
Complexities with extractive industries regulation on the African continent: What has ‘best practice’ legislation delivered in South Africa? The Extractive Industries and Society, 4 (2). pp. 267-277

Gorey, P., McHenry, M.P., Morrison-Saunders, A., Mtegha, H. and Doepel, D. (2016)
Critical elements in implementing fundamental change in public environmental policy: Western Australia’s mine closure and rehabilitation securities reform. Australasian Journal of Environmental Management, 23 (4). pp. 370-381.

Morrison-Saunders, A., McHenry, M.P., Sequeira, A.R., Gorey, P., Mtegha, H. and Doepel, D. (2016)
Integrating mine closure planning with environmental impact assessment: challenges and opportunities drawn from African and Australian practice. Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal, 34 (2). pp. 117-128.

Sequeira, A.R., McHenry, M.P., Morrison-Saunders, A., Mtegha, H. and Doepel, D. (2016)
Is the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) sufficient to generate transparency in environmental impact and legacy risks? The Zambian minerals sector. Journal of Cleaner Production, 129 . pp. 427-436

Conference paper/poster/ presentations:

  1. The 36th Annual AFSAAP conference in November 2013:
    • The Africa Mining Vision: Doepel D, H Mtegha & MP McHenry; and
    • International research collaborations for enhancing agricultural productivity and strategies for establishing effective global collaborations in Africa: Cakir M & McHenry MP.
  2. The Mining INDABA presentation and discussion in February 2014:
    • Land, Water, and Ecosystems: Urama K; and
    • Pit to Port: Doepel D.
  3. The Australian Political Studies Association (APSA) Annual Conference 2013. Resource management and development: opportunities accorded by regional cooperation –the case of the Southern African Development Community. Mtegha H.
  4. Morrison-Saunders A 2013 Mine closure planning and rehabilitation: recent legislation in WA and potential application in S. Africa. Potchefstroom, South Africa, 13 September 2013.
  5. Gorey P and A Morrison-Saunders (2014) Mine closure planning and rehabilitation - can the WA approach translate to Africa?, presented to AAMIG, Rokeby Room, BDO, 38 Station Street, Subiaco; 7 May 2014.
  6. The 37th annual African Studies Association of Australasia and the Pacific (AFSAAP) conference, 25-26 November 2014, Dunedin, NZ;
    • Morrison-Saunders A, AR Sequeira, MP McHenry & D Doepel (2014) Exploring alternatives to bonds for financing rehabilitation contingency measures in the mining sector in Africa;
    • Morrison-Saunders A, R Admiraal , MP McHenry & D Doepel (2014) Planning for HIV prevention in the extractive industry in Africa through enhanced EIA.
  7. Sequeira AR, MP McHenry, A Morrison-Saunders, P Gorey, H Mtegha and D Doepel (2015) Raising the bar: environmental disclosures in the extractives, transparency and innovative legal framework. Making Growth Inclusive: The role of mining in the post-2015 development agenda for Africa”, 5th Annual Africa-Australia Research Forum , Novotel Perth Langley Hotel, Western Australia 1 September 2015

Policy documents (Policy brief /research brief/ recommendations /seminar):

  1. Concept Note of the project distributed at Africa Down Under, 2013 and Mining INDABA 2014.
  2. Morrison-Saunders A, MP McHenry, AR Sequeira, H Mtegha, P Gorey, and D Doepel (2015) Fiscal and regulatory policies for mine closure and post-mining legacy, presented at: Making Growth Inclusive: The Role of Mining in the Post-2015 Development Agenda for Africa; A Workshop of the Australian Development Research Awards Scheme Programme, Sheraton Hotel, Abuja, Nigeria, 6 October, 2015
  3. Morrison-Saunders A, MP McHenry, AR Sequeira, H Mtegha, P Gorey, and D Doepel (2015) Mine closure planning for sustainable post-mining land use and legacy, presented at: Tornando o Crescimento Inclusivo: O Papel da Indústria Extractiva na Agenda do Desenvolvimento para África no Pós-2015; Workshop do Programa Australiano para a Pesquisa em Desenvolvimento, VIP Hotel, Maputo, Mozambique, 2 October 2015.
  4. Policy brief as part of completion for DFAT.


Assoc Prof Angus Morrison-Saunders (Principal Investigator), Murdoch University, +618 9360 6125

Mr David Doepel, Murdoch University, +614 1891 2287

Dr Mark McHenry, Murdoch University, +614 3048 5306

Dr Hudson Mtegha, University of the Witwatersrand, +277 6105 6484

Dr Phil Gorey, WA Dept. of Mines and Petroleum, +618 9222 3290

Dr Ana Rita Sequeira, Research Assistant, Murdoch University Africa Research Group, +61 8 9360 6956,