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Risk assessment guideline for closure of mine facilities in Chile

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

Authors: Luis A. Valenzuela, Alexandra M. Belaúnde, and Rodrigo A. Cádiz, Arcadis, Chile; Jorge A. Campos and Lilian M. Valdebenito, SERNAGEOMIN, Chile

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


With the promulgation in Chile of Law No. 20.551 concerning the closure of mining works and facilities, the evaluation of risks in mining facilities at the closure and post-closure stages has become relevant. Mining facilities’ performance and results in these stages form part of the central axis of the closure plan that must be presented to the National Service of Geology and Mining (SERNAGEOMIN). The control measures promised in the mining plans, the costs of which are evaluated and assured during the useful life of the project, must be supported with a risk analysis.

Complementing this framework, SERNAGEOMIN will publish a risk assessment guideline for the closure of mine facilities in the coming months. The objective of this guideline is to provide an adequate technical tool within the national framework and with pre-established criteria. The development of this methodology was a technical challenge given the scenarios that had to be considered: How do we evaluate the risks that could be present in the post-closure stage when the company is no longer operating? How do we incorporate this analysis during the useful lifecycle? How do we effectively incorporate geo-scientific information? How do we reflect the specific characteristics of each mining operation? How do we incorporate the knowledge and experience acquired in Chilean mining and maintain the national and international guidelines? Several sources of information were considered in the preparation of this guide, which involved the participation of multidisciplinary government and private teams using a quantitative evaluation methodology.

During operations, each mining company will generate information to determine the probability of an event’s occurrence based on operational technical factors and the condition of natural events. Operational factors, such as massive mine waste, that impact closure for all facilities remaining in the post-closure stage are considered. For natural events, each operation will make available studies that evaluate the seismicity and precipitation conditions, among other factors. To determine the severity of the consequences, quantifiable variables are identified that reflect the conditions of people and the environment prevalent in the area of influence. Because the effectiveness of the closure measures influences the probability of the event’s occurrence and the severity of the consequences, this effectiveness is considered in the analysis to obtain a residual risk value that the authorities will permanently monitor during the useful lifecycle of the operations.

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