In recognition of the potentially significant financial, environmental and social risks associated with future closure of our operations, we consider the entire life cycle of our assets, including closure, in our planning and decision-making.
Our governance framework for mine closure seeks to integrate resource planning and development; health; safety; environmental; community and social considerations; stakeholder engagement; risk; finance; and assurance in the operational design.
Our assets are required to develop a closure plan, including a financial assessment, to minimise closure-related risks over the life of the asset. Our Internal Audit function tests the effectiveness of these plans, with findings reviewed and reported annually to Asset Presidents, and summary reports provided to the Risk and Audit Committee. Information about BHP’s financial provisions related to closure liabilities is available in our Annual Report 2017.
We consider a range of possible closure alternatives for a site, including ongoing management, alternative land uses (that may include re-purposing the site for a beneficial use), divestment and relinquishment. To minimise the potential of adverse environmental impacts following closure, we also apply the Our Requirements for Environment and Climate Change standard to our closed sites. Our closed sites are required to maintain and enact closure management plans with long-term monitoring to verify that controls are effective and performance standards are maintained.
To leverage closure management knowledge and expertise across our global operations, a Resource Engineering Centre of Excellence was established in FY2017. This Centre of Excellence collaboratively engages through our Group-wide closure working group that meets to share best practice and discuss process improvements. We continue to improve our approach to closure planning to minimise closure legacy risks to biodiversity and water resources.
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.