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Australian-first report identifies billions worth of opportunities in improving mine closure and transitions

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Key points

  • Analysis by CSIRO projects the closure of nearly 240 Australian mines by 2040, estimating an annual expenditure of $4-8 billion on the diverse range of activities associated with mine rehabilitation and closure.
  • Australia has the potential to turn the mine closure challenge into opportunities for business, domestically and globally.
  • The report identifies existing and emerging opportunities across four categories:
    • Engagement and partnership, such as services, equipment and technology that enables effective engagement, co-design of post-mining solutions and mutually beneficial partnerships.
    • Waste reduction and recovery, such as reprocessing of mine wastes to obtain minerals and use of mine wastes for new purposes.
    • Mine rehabilitation, such as services and technologies that improve performance and cost-effectiveness.
    • Land use transitions, such as repurposing for assets for renewable energy generation.

A landmark new report underscores the scale of opportunity for Australian equipment, technology and services businesses helping to solve the domestic and global mine closure challenge.

Undertaken by CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, for CRC TiME, the report Enabling mine closure and transitions: Opportunities for Australian industry outlines new analysis estimating that expenditure on mine closure and rehabilitation activities at 240 Australian mines expected to close by 2040 could exceed $4 billion annually.

This is in addition to the investments required to prepare mines for closure, undertake progressive and integrated mine closure activities on operating mines, and rehabilitating legacy sites.

CRC TiME CEO Dr Guy Boggs said that new services, technology and equipment will be required to achieve positive environmental, social and governance outcomes in mining regions extended beyond activities traditionally associated with mine closure, such as land rehabilitation.

‘While land rehabilitation will remain critical, the report shows the diversity, span and scale of technology, services and equipment required.’

‘Of note is how a focus on the circular economy can lead to new commercial opportunities, such as reprocessing mine waste to extract residual minerals or to provide inputs into new processes or industries.

‘Another area highlighted is the opportunity for specialist service providers and developers to help identify, develop and repurpose previously mined land and infrastructure for new uses, such as renewable energy generation and tourism.’

CSIRO Future’s Senior Manager and lead report author, Dominic Banfield, said Australia could leverage the domestic mine closure and transition challenge to become a leading global supplier of innovative mine closure solutions.

“With thousands of active and inactive mines in Australia, and increasing demand for many minerals, the demand for mine closure solutions will only increase as we seek solutions to ensure positive closures and transitions of regions to successful post-mining futures,” Mr Banfield said.

Unlocking this potential requires coordinated and focused action to support further growth of this part of Australia’s mining equipment, technology and services sector, Dr Boggs said.

‘This report represents a major step forward in understanding the potential for regional, Indigenous and Australian businesses currently or seeking to provide mine closure solutions.

‘Growing the sector depends on raising awareness of the opportunities available – and translating broad support for improved mine closure outcomes into coordinated action to drive innovation.’

Established in 2020, the CRC TiME is part of the Australian Government’s Cooperative Research Centre Program. It is the world’s only dedicated research organisation examining how to reimagine and transform what happens – economically, socially and environmentally – after mining ends.

Major partners of the project included the Minerals Research Institute Western Australia, Fortescue and Intract. Other partners included enviroMETS (Qld), GHD, K2Fly, METS Ignited, O’Kane Consultants, the Queensland Government and The University of Queensland Sustainable Minerals Institute.

Media inquiries/more information

Jillian D’Urso
External Relations and Impact Director
0406 484 430


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