Better stakeholder participation is required in mining closures

11 October 2019 2 min. read
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According to Jessica Edwards at mining consultancy SRK Consulting, mining companies looking to work on rehabilitation after closing mines struggle with gaining social trust and credit. The scenario is particularly challenging for South Africa, where mining closures are growing in frequency.

Reserves in South Africa are depleting and the number of mining closures in South Africa is on the rise. While experts have indicated that there are substantial untapped reserves in the country, SRK Consulting has brought the focus back to the rehabilitation processes after the closure of a mine.

Mining companies have long been engaged in efforts to reconcile with communities and ecosystems that bear the brunt of their excavation activities. The most popular measure has been to keep the various stakeholders in the mining process involved in the decision-making procedures.

Better stakeholder participation is required in mining closures

However, according to Jessica Edwards of SRK Consulting, this has been met with its fair share of challenges. “Although there is a strong recognition that mining companies must rehabilitate the mining-impacted biophysical environment, many are struggling to develop trust – or a social license to operate – within mine-affected communities,” says Edwards.

According to her, the shortcomings of involving stakeholders can be attributed to the shortsightedness of the initiatives. “Traditionally, the focus is on informing, consulting and sometimes involving stakeholders in the decision-making process. Little thought is given to more innovative or collaborative approaches for achieving sustainable benefits to communities,” she said.

SRK Consulting is among the leading authorities on the mining sector in South Africa. As the sector has navigated a turbulent time, SRK Consulting has been recognised for its analysis of the current situation in mining, and its support of various mining companies. Closures are an important part of  South Africa’s mining landscape.

“With an increasing number od mines approaching the end of life, good practice examples of social transitioning are bound to emerge,” said Edwards, expressing hope that the sector will continue to evolve in tandem with social needs.