A programmatic approach: Eight steps to transforming performance in mine closure
By adopting a holistic, programmatic approach to mine closure, mining companies can drive increased confidence, consistency and efficiency and ultimately enable a more purposeful and sustainable legacy.
Programme management is being deployed across a range of industries globally to plan and manage major capital investment with leading organisations, recognising the approach’s potential to raise the bar in governance and performance, drive cost efficiency and ultimately better socio-economic and environmental outcomes.
Mining companies stand to reap these benefits and more by making the move from a project-by-project asset-based approach to a programmatic approach to mine closure.
It is common for the challenges around mine closure to result in inconsistencies, cost overruns and delay in delivery. Determining the right strategies for post-mining land use and rehabilitation can be complex. Delivery must comply with increasingly rigorous regulatory and environmental requirements, and support for communities is essential throughout the transition. Consumers, manufacturers and investors in the energy transition and metals and minerals sectors expect extraction, decommissioning, closure and reclamation to respect the environment and surrounding communities.
Research has also identified a number of specific factors that contribute to failings in closure. These include an absence of criteria and standards for rehabilitation, unclear roles and responsibilities in closure management teams and inaccurate closure management data.
In seeking to overcome such challenges and deliver consistent success, the mining sector can look to tried and tested global good practice. By adopting a programmatic approach via a closure programme management office (CPMO), companies have an opportunity to redefine closure.
Establishing a global closure programme management office
The CPMO delivery model treats each individual project as a programme of work, and so ideally should cover an organisation’s full portfolio of operating assets. As new mines transition into operation, reporting should adopt a closure perspective to ensure that an organisation’s full liability is captured.
The CPMO is responsible for ensuring the strategic objectives of the wider opportunity are being met and steering that opportunity to adapt to changing business needs. The CPMO often acts as a gatekeeper between projects and the wider business, distilling risk, financial and performance data into a programme or portfolio level view.
Embedding good practice
We have identified eight key ways in which a CPMO can help redefine mine closure and embed good practice, based on our experience of setting up project management offices (PMOs) for success across a range of industries. These eight key ways are:
- Establish the fundamentals of robust governance: Clear policies, processes and responsibilities must be in place to define the establishment, management and control of the projects, programmes and portfolios involved in mine closure
- Drive standardisation: A framework for consistency is created by standardising policies, procedures and guidelines. It is critical that this includes a common digital, data and reporting environment to enable effective control, regardless of programme scale or complexity
- Manage the scope of closure effectively: Scope planning and control activities will include effective communication to stakeholders, engineers and constructors of what is – and is not – included in mine closure and who has responsibility for remediation and rehabilitation works
- Enable an accurate view of risk: Risk exposure across a CPMO is dynamic and so must be continually assessed to give stakeholders an accurate view of the risk profile
- Control change: A structured and methodical process is needed to ensure the project baseline is adequately maintained and to give a clear picture of adjustments to scope, schedule and cost
- Report on and manage performance: Performance reporting lies at the heart of the PMO, enabling data from all disciplines to be consolidated into a ‘single source of truth’ reporting system
- Collaborate and engage with the supply chain: By working with the supply chain consistently and effectively to stimulate innovation and reward value creation, there is the potential to improve productivity and safety and reduce cost and time
- Promote learning and continuous improvement: It is leading practice for CPMOs to establish a lessons learnt framework and review to share repeatable successes and lessons to drive improvement.
Success will rely on building capability within the CPMO team, so that it is able to define the strategy and operating model for delivery of the closure programme and build the programme culture.
As mining organisations become more data focused, the CPMO plays an increasingly important role in providing the consistent source of ‘truth’ across the closure programme.
For example, CPMO reporting can evolve from many non-standard siloed reports created using different programmes to a single, standardised live dashboard. This can enable reporting to be standardised across mines globally, allowing faster and more informed decision-making across the projects, programme and enterprise.
Through the visibility of performance data, CPMOs provide the opportunity to manage scope, drive cost efficiencies, manage closure schedules, reduce risk and improve standards. They enable a high level of cost confidence by driving more consistent ways of working and continuous improvement across all disciplines.
Optimising the legacy
A CPMO can also provide a framework for managing requirements beyond the traditional portfolio demands of time, cost and quality.
By gathering lessons learnt from experience on closure projects, mining companies’ legacies on every project can be optimised and a mechanism created to reliably evaluate holistic and standardised approaches to closure.
As mine companies collaborate with industry, government and community stakeholders to strengthen liabilities into opportunities, the programmatic approach can support improved outcomes in environmental recovery, and economic and social sustainability initiatives, helping communities and wider society face the challenges of the future.
Time for purposeful action
An increasing global focus on sustainable value makes this the ideal time for mining companies to move to a purposeful and programmatic approach to mine closure. Not only is there the potential to drive improved outcomes in environmental recovery and economic and social sustainability, but there is also the opportunity to apply lessons learnt to ensure that every project leaves a positive legacy, time after time.