Closure planning touches many areas of our business and is an important consideration throughout the life cycle of our operations. We have a governance framework for mine closure that integrates resource planning and development, health, safety, environment, community and social considerations, stakeholder engagement, finance, and assurance into the operational design.
We recognise the significant risks associated with ineffective closure and use our governance framework to mitigate these risks. Each operating asset must develop a closure plan and a corresponding financial assessment. The plans describe the objectives and processes we use to minimise closure-related risks over the life of the asset. Our internal audit function tests the effectiveness of these plans and their alignment to the closure planning framework. Information about the Company’s financial provisions related to closure liabilities is available in our Annual Report.
A Company-wide closure working group meets on a regular basis to leverage experience and knowledge across our operations. A key activity of this group during FY2017 will be the finalisation of Our Requirements for Closure standard to further improve our closure planning processes.
An ongoing internal audit program tests the effectiveness of our closure plans. In FY2016, these were undertaken at our Western Australia Iron Ore port and rail operations, our Pampa Norte copper operation in Chile and several of our North American closed mine sites. All audit findings are reviewed annually and reported to Operations Presidents, with summary reports provided to the Risk and Audit Committee.
In FY2016, we continued to participate in the International Network for Acid Prevention, an organisation of mining companies dedicated to reducing liabilities associated with sulphide mine minerals.
Environmental considerations and mine closure
Properly managing risks to biodiversity and water resources into closure is a significant issue. As a result, we are continuing to improve our approach to closure planning so that we can minimise closure legacies during operations.
Where we have existing closed sites we continue to apply Our Requirements for Environment and Climate Change standard so that impacts are identified and options implemented to minimise the potential of adverse environmental impacts. In addition, closed sites are required to perform long-term monitoring to verify that the controls are effective and that the performance standards are maintained.