Ralton Maree – Responsibility beyond mine closure: The Demolition Paradox

Mine Closure Plans aim to identify and mitigate risks associated with the closure of assets once they have reached their end of life, including the quantification of liabilities associated with identified risks. These plans typically assume that miscellaneous, supporting infrastructure (that may or may not have been used directly for mining) will be handed over to third parties (typically municipalities or landowners), advocated to fulfill future social obligations whilst practically reducing the liabilities associated with the demolition of the identified infrastructure. 

Numerous examples in South Africa, however, demonstrate that communities are left impoverished and deprived following the relinquishment of infrastructure to third parties, contrary to the intentions of the donor. A number of factors contribute to this quandary including that installed capacity of relinquished infrastructure may not be aligned to future needs or feasible business ventures, a lack of portable skills and/or regional opportunities and a lack of economic impetus following mine closure to ensure adequate maintenance of infrastructure, rates and taxes. These challenges occur due to a lack of effective, alternative economic scenarios once the mine-sponsored maintenance and financial resources have ceased.

Therefore, although seemingly irrational, the demolition of functioning infrastructure is the only solution in a context where feasible, alternative economic models (to mining) are absent. Over time, history has taught us that good deeds in the form of donations frequently deteriorate to a point where they expose a lack of planning, a lack of sustainability and a lack of responsibility where positive legacy ambitions are not achieved.


Ralton has more than 20 years of experience in the sustainability discipline within the mining industry, where he has developed a robust understanding of sustainability issues throughout the mining value-chain and lifecycle including exploration, projects, operational and mine closure environments. Ralton’s sound understanding and hands-on experience of implementing legislative and corporate performance standards and requirements; operational environmental management; mine closure rehabilitation planning; and on integration of disciplines into Environmental Management Systems (ISO14001). Ralton applies his project management and co-ordination skills to facilitate and improve risk management throughout the mine lifecycle. Ralton’s experience includes international work experience within corporate, operational and consulting environments.

Director: Uvuna Sustainability, Johannesburg South Africa

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