Tanzania has been, and still is, depending on its mineral endowment socio-economic development, infrastructure and employment. Effects of mining related activities on livelihood of local communities have been increasingly documented and are often severe, long-term and wide ranging (UNEP/WHO, 1998). When a mine finishes its life-span, communities are often left with polluted environment that can be translated into socio-economic, health and cultural damages when there is no robust closure mechanism or plan.
Mine closure is a dynamic process that takes into account environmental, social and economic considerations during mine closure planning and implementation. Mine Closure can be either permanent for depleted reserves or temporary in case the mine changes status to winding down of production (care and maintenance status). The later scenario also includes a mine that has stopped production for various technical, financial, environmental, or labour related reasons, but the mineral right holders have not declared their intent to close the mine. To ensure compliance with rehabilitation obligations, mineral right holders are required to accompany their application with a set of documents including the closure plan.
Since the 1990's Tanzania has seen development of mines at different scales mainly grouped into small, medium and large scale mines. Within these groups, there exist operations with different types of minerals that require different closure strategies. Closure of such mines has been among the challenges facing the mining industry in Tanzania. In the past development of mine closure plans has usually been based on particular representative provisions of the legislations that were used to evaluate the closure plan at different levels but failed to describe all the necessary components and mineral variations occurring in different types of mines. Mine Closure Plan combines technical and social information to create a platform for environmental management throughout the life of the mine and post mine closure.
In 2010 the Government provided minimum requirements of mine closure through the Mining Act, 2010 specifically, in its Mining (Safety, Occupational Health, and Environmental Protection) Regulations of 2010.
In line with the legal requirements on mine closure, the mineral right holders of Special Mining License (SML) and Mining License (ML) are required to prepare Mine Closure Plan (MCP) as part of creating a rehabilitation strategy on their commitments for mine closure implementation. Mine closure plan is a set of documents that provides guidance on key elements/aspects of mine closure process including closure costs during the mine life (as progressive closure) and at final closure
Therefore, MCP is a legal requirement of the Tanzanian Mining Act, No. 15 of 2010 as amended in 2017, and the Environmental Management Act, No. 20 of 2004. The mine closure process is administered by the National Mining Closure Committee (NMCC) that comprises of members from various Government Institutions.
The purpose of these guidelines, therefore, is to provide guidance on the preparation, implementation and monitoring of MCPs to meet local mining regulatory framework and requirements while addressing the identified challenges.
The Mine Closure Guidelines aim at informing the mineral right holders of Special Mining Licenses (SMLs) and Mining Licenses (MLs); regulatory authorities and other relevant technical practitioners in administering the preparation, implementation and monitoring of MCPs on:
i. Activities required to be undertaken for mine closure;
ii. Procedures for safe decommissioning of the mine;
iii. Scientific studies required to be incorporated in the MCPs;
iv. Reclamation cost and rehabilitation bond; and
v. Duration for post closure monitoring.
The MCP shall also reflect the following:
i. Progressive Mine Closure Plan.
In this part, the MCP shall include all issues related to progressive rehabilitation during the mine operations including land use planning.
ii. Final Mine Closure Plan.
Final closure plan shall address the closure activities at the end of mine life and post closure until the mine areas reaches self-sustaining conditions.