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Regional closure plans for iron ore mines: A new approach

Paper from the Proceedings of Mine Closure Solutions 2014 conference held in Ouro Preto, Brazil, April 26-30, 2014. (downloadable PDF).

Authors: Alessandro Resende, Simone Picarelli, Gersonito Vieira, and Flavio Luiz Costa, Vale S.A., Brazil; Bárbara Chiodeto, Bureau de Projetos e Consultoria Ltda., Brazil

Published by InfoMine Inc. 2014.
ISBN: 978-0-9917905-4-8


This paper presents a new concept for the preparation of closure plans with the development of a methodology for integrated regional mine closure plans for Vale’s iron ore operations located in the Quadrilatero Ferrifero, in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. The mines have been considered at their various phases of the mineral lifecycle (design phase, operating, decommissioned, and depleted mines). A regional closure plan refers to a site hosting a number of mines that require production factors at the same sources and consume natural resources from the same environment and are linked to a minimum aggregation territorial unit—in this case, the municipalities. The scope of the regional closure plans was defined based on indicators such as production chain, catchment basin, labor market, regional polarization, and degree of local socio-environmental vulnerability. The methodology of the regional plans focuses on identification of the characteristics of the municipalities and the types of mines in the same environment, allowing the construction of a mine versus municipality matrix that identifies weak points, risks, and other potential factors associated with mine closure. This methodology of regional plans will be a management tool to be applied to operations, making possible the identification and use of regional synergies for project sequencing. These include, for example, regionalization of socio-environmental programs, more efficient pre- and post-closure monitoring, new uses of geotechnical structures, and relocation of labor to other operating units. In addition, the regional plans will provide guidelines for future use alternatives, which may reflect the regional vocation. The principal results expected after this methodology is applied are the utilization of synergies among socio-environmental programs, improved management, reduced operating and closure costs, simplified environmental licensing procedural steps, and enhanced relationships with stakeholders. Another aspect developed within the methodology is the formatting of cost indices for mine closure based on the coverage area for integrated mine closure characterization matrix according to the degree of relevance, complexity, and risk associated with mine closure.

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