Mining is a temporary use of the land. Therefore, a plan and sufficient financial resources to carry it out are needed. Prior to the commencement of mining, mining companies are encouraged to consult with local communities to determine how they would prefer to see the land used after the valuable minerals have been extracted. The mining company then endeavours to incorporate these community values into the reclamation plan. An engineering plan provides an estimate of the cost of reclamation and allows companies and government to plan for the future. The financial resources needed to carry out the plan, called a reclamation security, are provided by the mine operator to government prior to the beginning of mining.
In the case of surface mines (pits, quarries and open pit mines), reclamation work typically consists of repairing the 'footprint' created by the operation. This consists of backfilling the mine, contouring slopes, re-vegetating and allowing for the natural flooding of the open pit. Compared with surface mines, underground mines create a much smaller footprint on the land. Underground workings are allowed to flood and mine openings are sealed. Excess waste rock from underground is brought to the surface and stored in piles. When mining ceases, these piles are contoured to conform to the local landscape and re-vegetated (depending on the desired future land use). Buildings and roadways constructed to develop mineral resources are also considered in a reclamation plan. Buildings are often removed and the area reseeded.