The paper, using a review of global experiences and the World Bank’s decades of assisting governments to close mines, provides recommendations to policymakers on how to plan and implement a coal mine closure and mitigate the impacts on the people, communities, and livelihoods. The article highlights the typical characteristics of coal mining communities, which influence the potential for regional recovery after a closure. Many coal-dependent regions continue to lag behind other regions socially and economically, decades after a mine has been shut down. It further highlights how there are few if any instances of fully satisfactory economic rejuvenation outcomes in mono-industry coal mining towns, thereby emphasizing the acute need for early and careful planning to deal with the impacts of a closure.
The paper identifies nine lessons learned from managing coal mine closures, which are organized under three themes—namely policy and strategy development; people and communities; and land and environmental remediation. The policy and strategy development theme emphasizes that coal mine closures require clear policy direction, large budget outlays, and significant stakeholder consultations. The section on people and communities underlines the importance of a Just Transition for All to meet the needs of workers, families, and the wider community. The land and environmental remediation strategies advance the importance of financial planning for environmental remediation and land reclamation and summarizes a range of possible financial assurance mechanisms available. Some of these mechanisms are mobility assistance, employment services and small business support services, social assistance payments, and various financial assurance mechanisms for mine closures.