Comprehensive mine closure planning is an important facet of maintaining strong relationships with local governments and communities and, as a risk management process, also benefits us. Without proper planning we could be exposed to higher costs, missed opportunities, compensation claims and reputational damage. Therefore, closure planning at Bisha is an activity that starts at exploration and mine design and continues throughout the life-of-mine. At present, the estimated mine-life for Bisha is approximately 9.5 years (2025); however, there is flexibility to extend the life of mine through successful continued exploration.
BMSC has a conceptual mine closure plan in place for the Bisha Mine prepared by an independent engineering firm and registered with the Eritrean Ministry of Energy and Mines. We are committed to ensuring the closure plan is reviewed and updated regularly to reflect our evolving areas of operation and expansion.
We base the Bisha Mine closure and reclamation liability on our best estimate of costs for site closure and reclamation activities. These estimates were updated in 2015, with a current closure cost estimate of $38,700,000. Undoubtedly the closure will result in potential socio-economic impacts for the local populations. Specifically, this means regaining access to grazing land that has been taken up by the mine site, as well as loss of employment for local communities, which will undoubtedly impact the emerging wage based economy. One particular option to offset this local economic decline is to plant species for dry season grazing as well as planting Acacia Senegal that can be harvested for Gum Arabic, a cash crop that the Ministry of Agriculture is supporting. Our BMSC Training Centre is also improving the skills of our workers that will improve their employability in other mining companies operating in Eritrea.
In 2017, BMSC will further refine its social mine closure plan for mitigating negative socio-economic impacts of mine closure. A consultant will be hired to develop a conceptual social closure plan that will consider local impacts related to closure and specifically how to address them.