This engagement guide is intended to function as a possible tool for asset managers for engagement with mining companies on reclamation and closure of mine sites. It aims to aid in the development of sustainable water management practices adhering to SMART principles (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bound), leading to an environmentally and socially responsible site-level reclamation strategy.
Using this guide, not all questions will be relevant for all mining companies; rather this guide is intended to be used as a background document of which most relevant questions can be selected. This guide is a result of a joint working group on responsible mining by ACTIAM, Aegon Asset Management, NN Investment Management, Robeco, IUCN NL and VBDO.
The joint group participants have been working on starting engagement with mining companies on pressing sustainability issues of which reclamation is one (the other two topics are Water Management and Biodiversity). This engagement guide is based on multiple international standards and guidelines including IRMA, ICMM, IFC and the GRI.
Challenges in reclamation for mining companies
Mine reclamation is the process of restoring land that has been mined to a natural and usable state. Although reclamation happens after a mine is closed, a reclamation strategy should be drafted before mining activities have started. If the process of exploration reclamation is not carried out responsibly, surrounding ecosystems can be damaged and local communities can be negatively affected, which can result in reputational and material risks. An incomplete or inadequate reclamation and closure plan can lead to unforeseen damages to human health and the environment, which are often irreversible.
Deciding on engagement
Assess the company’s views on reclamation and closure plans. Does the company draft responsible reclamation and closing plans before a mine is taken into use, including guaranteeing sufficient funds to carry out these plans? How does the company include local stakeholders in drafting closing plans on mine-site level? The engagement process should clarify if and how the company has mine site closing and reclamation measures in place, and how it views reclamation in general on both a company and mine-site level. Ideally, the engagement process will enhance the company’s understanding of the importance of decent reclamation strategies and induce improvements to their reclamation management.