The mining industry must adapt to climate change, both to ensure safe operations for workers, communities and the environment as well as to ensure the safety and success of restoration efforts. Mining infrastructure as well as containment and restoration structures must be designed to take into account future climate conditions, especially heavy precipitation and thawing permafrost. Such considerations include the choice of material to be used and the design of the containment structures.
For example, resizing containment structures and spillways will allow the facilities to handle greater volumes of water. In any case, the use of climate projections provides a better understanding of the conditions for which the infrastructure must be designed. Identifying which adaptation solutions to prioritize will depend on the containment methods selected and the mining sites themselves.
This methodological approach is applicable in different climates and for different restoration methods. Mining industry stakeholders have a method to assess the resilience of present or future restoration facilities in the face of climate change.
The development and distribution of guides and tools can also facilitate best practice adoption and thereby help the mining industry to adapt. In fact, the Government of Quebec has recently established a regulatory framework that aims to encourage stakeholders to take into account climate change when developing mining projects. However, this initiative being very recent, very few mining projects have actually begun implementing such measures. It will therefore be important to stay abreast of technological innovations when designing and developing mine restoration plans.