GRI 103-2, 103-3 ODS 11.4
Our mining and industrial facilities are planned for a complete cycle of beginning, middle and end of the operation, ensuring not only the building and operation of our mining and smelting units in Brazil and Peru, but also an adequate shutdown of their activities, designed to co-create a legacy for the surrounding community.
Our commitment to this legacy places the issue front and center and, as a strategic part of the business, is controlled by internal policies and involves everybody from the operational units to the executive board members. Regardless of current legislation, all our operations have future use and decommissioning plans based on the most current technical references and best market practices. They are more complete and committed plans than the current legal requirements.
The award we received from Benchmarking magazine illustrates the responsibility we have assumed regarding a vision of the future about the economic and social development in the locations where we operate. The case history was presented during the 13th Mine Closure International Conference in September in Leipzig (Germany) and reports how we anticipate the shutdown planning process. The work was also presented at the IV Latin American Engineering and Sustainability Forum, organized by the Federal University of Tocantins (UFT). The event involved over a thousand students from Brazil and Latin America and contributed to the dissemination of good practices for a training environment focused on future professionals.
While most companies begin planning for decommissioning after the startup of operations, we do so as of the beginning of the project planning stage (FEL1). For Aripuanã, for example, which is in the building phase, we already have concluded a study for future use of the area and a conceptual plan for the decommissioning process.
The last review of our units’ decommissioning plans was conducted over the course of 2017 (units in Brazil and Cajamarquilla) and in 2018 the process in the other units in Peru were about 60% completed, with the involvement of communities and the preparation of development agendas for each locality. We consider it important to monitor and involve the general public and community institutions in an open and transparent way so that there is effective awareness of the impacts of the ending of our activities. These situations involve the release of a large number of jobs and reduces the direct and indirect municipal tax revenues.
In Fortaleza de Minas, whose operations were suspended and effectively sold in 2018, we maintained our commitment to the community and other stakeholders to continue the social projects in progress until the end of 2018.
Sense of urgency
Although the social initiatives that we conducted throughout the operational phase are designed to stimulate the community’s pro-activism and autonomy, the formalization of the decommissioning actions imbues the population and the government with a sense of urgency regarding the issue, considering that one of the great challenges for the continuity of social projects is that the community takes on all of the acquired processes, tools and knowledge.
The decommissioning plans are technical documents, which contain guidelines for a safe, complete and efficient decommissioning operation in which economic, environmental and social actions are considered. They follow four steps throughout the life cycle of the operation.
In the first stage, a socioenvironmental diagnosis is prepared for the unit’s and the municipality’s areas, inserting the operations into a survey of potential future uses for the area; in the second stage, possible future uses are mapped and the most appropriate from the technical and economic points of view are indicated; in the third stage, the decommissioning actions that must be implemented for the physical, biotic and socio-economic environments are defined in order to achieve the intended future use; and finally, in stage four, the decommissioning actions defined in step three will be evaluated, to be based on the execution of the plans and whose global value will help define the unit’s decommissioning financial provision.
At the end of the fourth stage, the decommissioning plan is consolidated and monitored by the unit. This document contains three levels of detail – conceptual, basic and executive – with the beginning of the decommissioning activities five years before the expected closing date of the operation and continuity for the five years subsequent to the effective end of the activities.
During 2018, the decommissioning projects that will begin in 2019 for Vazante and Três Marias were initiated, which, although they have a longer useful life, already have structures to be decommissioned within the scope of a progressive shutdown process, such as caverns and tailings deposits. Although there are advanced studies to increase the life of the mine, we follow the plan filed with the National Mining Agency (NMA).
Decommissioning of Vazante ODS 15.2
The Vazante unit in Minas Gerais, which has been operating since 1969, already has initiated decommissioning plan actions. The current forecast, based on probable and confirmed reserves, is that the mine will operate through 2027, although this horizon should extend for even a few more years, with investments aimed at further extending its useful life.
In the survey, the potential of developing ecotourism (taking advantage of the natural potential of pits and caves in the region), teaching (the unit’s mining structures) and religious tourism (Our Lady of Lapa Festival) were identified. We also envisage environmental measures (physical, chemical and biological means), such as recovery actions for degraded areas and alternatives for local development after the demobilization of our assets.
Among the results already obtained in the environmental initiatives are: recovery of 457.34 hectares, out of a total of 868.05 hectares; decommissioning of a pit, five sterile stacks and de-characterization of one of the two tailings containment geotechnical structures. We expect to make investments of R$ 77.2 million over the next five years to comply with the Decommissioning Plan.