Mine Closure 2023
2–5 October 2023 | Nugget Casino Resort, Reno, Nevada, USA
Welcome To Nevada
Interim President, Nevada Mining Association
Dana Bennett currently serves as Interim President of the Nevada Mining Association (NVMA). She has had a long association with NVMA and the Nevada mining industry in general. As NvMA President (2014-2020), she represented Nevada mining in a wide variety of venues from Elko to Ghana and Australia to Las Vegas. Before that, NvMA and individual companies had contracted with her for projects and advocacy. She began her public policy career in Nevada as a legislative researcher and was Staff Director for the Nevada Legislative Committee on Public Lands for nearly 10 years. She served on Governor Brian Sandoval’s staff and on the Nevada Governor’s Board of Economic Development under Governor Steve Sisolak. In 2022, Dana served as the Interim Executive Director for the Kenny Guinn Center for Policy Priorities, Nevada’s only nonpartisan think tank, and was also invited to speak about critical minerals at the International Women’s Forum’s World Leadership Conference. With a PhD in history, Dana’s knowledge of Nevada runs deep, and her network spans the entire state.
Rob Kuczynski, P.E.
Chief, Bureau of Mining Regulation and Reclamation for the State of Nevada
Rob is a registered professional metallurgical engineer and graduate of Michigan Technological University. He began his career over 40 years ago with the U.S. Bureau of Mines, where he did research on platinum group metals and rare earth oxides, has over 20 peer-reviewed publications and articles, and is a recipient of a U.S. Patent for the recovery of platinum group metals from spent catalysts. For the past 26 years has been employed by the Nevada Division of Environmental protection, of which 21 were spent with the Bureau of Mining Regulation and Reclamation, progressing from staff engineer to Regulation Branch Supervisor and more recently, Bureau Chief.
Administrator, Nevada Division of Minerals
Rob is the Deputy Administrator of the Nevada Division of Minerals or NDOM. NDOM oversees Nevada’s physical safety Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) program. NDOM is also the permitting agency of Fluid Minerals drilling activity in the state, the repository for Nevada mine production, minerals education of the public, and administers the Nevada Reclamation Performance Bond Pool. Rob received his Bachelor of Science degree in Geology from the University of Nevada, Reno and worked as a geologist in mineral exploration before transitioning to NDOM. During last 10 years at NDOM, Rob has focused and completed extensive securing, hard closure, remediation, and inventory work on AML sites throughout the state. Currently Rob is the chair of the Hardrock AML Committee for the National Association of Abandoned Mine Lands Program.
General Manager Legacy Assets, BHP
Kate is responsible for 24 closed mines across USA and Canada, leading a team of 200 including contractors. This includes 108 dams in 24 different facilities. Her and her team’s goal is to ‘reimagine the legacy of mining’ – to demonstrate, communicate and influence pathways to divest, relinquish and repurpose sites.
Kate has an engineering degree, an MBA, a First Class Mine Managers Certificate and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. She is a Fellow and Chartered Professional of the AusIMM.
Kate has over 30 years’ in the mining industry with a depth of experience in open cut and underground operations. She has worked a variety of technical, operational, management, contractor, consulting and corporate roles across a number of commodities. She has also served 6 years as Director for the Industry Professional Organisation AusIMM. She currently serves as a Director for the Arizona Mining Association.
This keynote highlights the importance of closure and community engagement in the mining industry, emphasizing the need to go beyond regulatory minimums and foster meaningful relationships with stakeholders. It explores key messages related to engagement strategies, indigenous engagement, managing change, and the potential consequences of inadequate closure practices.
It begins by underscoring the significance of closure and its impact on the reputation and viability of mining operations. It emphasizes that meeting regulatory requirements alone is no longer sufficient and that there are high costs associated with poor closure practices, such as delays and the potential denial of licenses.
Next, the talk delves into the importance of engagement and communication throughout the life of a mine. It emphasizes the need to engage with local communities in a simple and consistent manner, while also taking the time to understand their concerns and priorities. The abstract suggests collaborative and creative approaches for generating outcomes, highlighting examples such as co-creation and repurposing opportunities for the benefit of the community.
Indigenous and First Nation engagement is another crucial aspect. In particular the importance of engaging with indigenous communities on their terms, listening to their perspectives, and acknowledging historical impacts. It provides case studies, such as Globe Solitude Tailings Tribal engagement and First nations on Vancouver Island, to showcase successful approaches and challenges to indigenous engagement.
Managing change is also addressed, focusing on regulatory changes, trailing liabilities, and the influence of regulations on responsible mining practices. It highlights the need for companies to adapt to regulatory changes, manage liabilities effectively, and do the right thing even when not legally obligated.
Lastly, the talk touches on the potential consequences of hasty divestment without proper community engagement, highlighting the case study of Carson Hill. It emphasizes the need for patience and thoughtful consideration in the divestment process.
In conclusion, this talk emphasizes the importance of closure and community engagement in the mining industry. It highlights strategies for effective engagement, showcases successful examples of indigenous engagement, and addresses the challenges and opportunities associated with managing change and liabilities. By fostering strong relationships with communities and stakeholders, mining companies can contribute to sustainable and responsible mining practices while building a positive reputation.
Chief Executive Officer, Perpetua Resources
Laurel Sayer is a lifelong advocate for conservation. As CEO of Perpetua Resources, Laurel brings a background in federal and natural resource policy and years of experience in identifying solutions that work for both business and environmental interests.
Laurel’s leadership of the Stibnite Gold Project is rooted in the belief that the mining industry can, and must, work to promote environmental stewardship and community partnership. Laurel is proud to be surrounded by a team of experts, each leading in their field and working to bring the Project to life.
Prior to her role as CEO, Laurel served as a director on the company’s corporate board for two years, was the founding director of the Idaho Association of Land Trusts, and spent many years working on natural resource issues with Congressman Mike Simpson.
Laurel knows some of the best trails in the Sawtooth Wilderness and loves spending time in Idaho’s beautiful outdoors making memories with her family.
Deep in the Idaho backcountry sits the abandoned Stibnite Mining District. After decades of mining activity, largely driven by World War II and the Korean War, the site was left riddled with environmental legacies. Millions of tons of legacy waste and tailings sit unconstrained, leaching arsenic and antimony into ground and surface water. The headwaters of the Salmon River flows into an abandoned mining pit, blocking salmon migration to miles of prime spawning habitat. And habitat conditions throughout the site are degraded and in need of repair.
From the start, it seemed natural that redevelopment of the historical site for gold and antimony should also bring investment in environmental restoration. From day-one, the company’s motto was “restore the site”, proudly declaring a vision that responsible, modern mining could improve conditions at the site. The mine plan was designed so that remining the site would provide the industrial scale capabilities and financial resources needed to address historical waste, improve water quality, and fix the river. To most, it is a win-win. But not everyone has believed that a mining company could be trusted to bring environmental solutions. For more than a decade, developing the Stibnite Gold Project has illustrated the challenges and opportunities of revisiting abandoned mine sites and the importance of paying forward on our commitments to be a part of the solution.
Dr Rob Bowell
Corporate Consultant (Geochemistry), SRK Consulting
Rob is a geochemist with 33 years’ experience. He has a background in applied geology in tropical and deeply weathered terrains and mining consulting in the fields of due diligence, financial and technical audits, process chemistry, environmental geochemistry, environmental engineering, and mineralogy. He specializes in the application of chemistry and mineralogy to solve engineering problems. He specializes in uranium, lithium, copper, and REE deposits and has experience working with gold, potash, base metals, nickel-PGE, coal, iron, phosphate, tin, beryllium, fluorite, and manganese. His expertise span North America, South America, Greenland, Africa, and Eastern Europe.
Rob has 207 publications in the field of mineralogy, process chemistry, and applied geochemistry, ARD, contaminated land, and water treatment available on request. He is the co-author of technical publications on gold mineralogy and processing (CRC); water management in the mining industry (UK-EA); and arsenic stabilization (MIRO). Senior Editor Reviews in Mineralogy and Geochemistry v79 on Arsenic geochemistry. Contributor to Encyclopaedia of Geochemistry v.13 (Economic Geology).
Natural geochemical attenuation in the vadose zone refers to the process by which chemical parameters are naturally degraded, transformed, or immobilized as they migrate through the unsaturated zone above the water table. The vadose zone, that often underlies mine waste facilities is a chemical active environment that involves physical, biological and chemical interactions. These processes can effectively reduce the concentrations and mobility of contaminants, leading to their eventual removal or degradation. Here are some key natural attenuation processes that can occur in the vadose zone:
Biodegradation: Microorganisms present in the soil can metabolize certain chemicals such as ammonia, cyanide or nitrates, breaking them down into simpler and less toxic compounds.
Sorption and adsorption are processes by which chemical parameters can be chemically or physically trapped or bound to soil particles through the mechanisms of sorption or adsorption. This can reduce their mobility and availability for further transport. These processes are a function of the pH and redox of the environment, minerals present in the soil and prevailing water chemistry.
Volatilization can also occur within the vadose zone and is an important control on the removal of parameters such as cyanide and ammonia.
In addition, other chemical reactions may occur involving oxidation-reduction reactions, hydrolysis, and photolysis that can lead to precipitation or incorporation of chemical parameters into non-soluble mineral forms. In addition, although not often spoken about dilution by lower concentration waters in the vadose zone, can reduce or mitigate groundwater impacts.
The effectiveness of natural attenuation in the vadose zone depends on several factors, including the nature of the chemicals, the redox and pH potential of the environment, soil properties, groundwater flow rates, and site-specific conditions, such as the availability of oxygen, nutrients, and suitable microbial populations. Such processes can occur in a wide variety of environments.
Case study examples are presented to demonstrate the viability of natural attenuation as an aspect of long-term management of chemical loading in the environment and whilst it has limitations, combined with other methods such processes are effective in mine closure and should be considered in the planning and assessment of long-term geochemistry in post closure facilities. It goes without saying but all of this application is dependent on comprehensive site characterization and monitoring are to assess the potential for natural attenuation and determine its feasibility as a remedial option as part of mine closure.