The purpose of current reclamation requirements is to make sure that the life cycle of a mine is not a dead end which becomes a public liability. A mine site typically has three major phases in its development life cycle; exploration, mining, and reclamation. These three phases can span years or decades.
The exploration phase typically takes between two and five years, during which an operator determines the feasibility of a mine project and acquires the required permissions to perform the mining. The mining phase is that phase during which the resource is actually extracted and is typically the longest duration in the mine life cycle. The final phase, the reclamation phase, may begin concurrent with mining and typically lasts three to ten years beyond the end of active mining to ensure that the mine site satisfies the reclamation requirements. The completion of the reclamation phase marks the start of a former mine site’s new life for another purpose.