From Reclamation to Relinquishment: Is this an Achievable Goal in British Columbia?

December 14, 2020

Transitioning a mine from reclamation to relinquishment is a significant challenge. The International Council for Metals and Mining (ICMM) defines relinquishment as “the transition of ownership and residual liability to the jurisdictional authority or a third party”. But, is mine relinquishment achievable within British Columbia (BC)? Are there clear regulatory mechanisms that support a pathway from progressive reclamation to relinquishment? Are all mine closure domains including tailings facilities possible to relinquish? And, why is assessment of post-closure residual risk crucial regardless of the presence of a clear regulatory mechanism in place? This paper discusses some of these key challenges on the pathway from progressive reclamation towards potential mine relinquishment. We focus on tailings facilities as these assets typically represent the greatest post-closure residual risk for a mine operator. The paper begins with a discussion on the current mine relinquishment regulatory framework in BC compared to other global policy examples. We then explore aspects of a mine relinquishment framework in the context of landform design and provide potential completion criteria to support risk assessment and closure objectives. We conclude with a discussion on risk-based Front-End Loading (FEL) practices that are needed for integrated closure planning regardless of a whether a mechanism for relinquishment is in place. Sanders, J. and M. Murphy. 2019. “From Reclamation to Relinquishment: Is this an Achievable Goal in British Columbia?”, in Proceedings of the British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium, 16-19 September 2019. Vancouver, B.C.: University of British Columbia. Norman B. Keevil Institute of Mining Engineering. doi: