Companies who fail to consider or adequately plan for mine rehab (rehabilitation) in the early stages of the project development, often see costly remediation outcomes.
The number of mines closed and successfully rehabilitated and relinquished in Australia is very low across the states with the majority recording none or one.
Figure 1 (above): The number of mines closed, rehabilitated and relinquished by state and territory in Australia. Source: ABC news.
According to Ensia, some mines have done better than others. Peter Erskine, a plant ecologist and lead of the Ecosystem Assessment, Restoration and Resilience Program at the the University of Queensland, points to Alcoa’s bauxite mines in Western Australia as an example.
“Alcoa’s been very careful with how they treat their top soil and over time invested quite a bit of money in working out propagation techniques for rare species,” he says. Alcoa monitors plant species on its mined sites, and, the company says, in 2001 achieved a target of 100 percent of species richness in mined areas.
“Successful rehabilitation requires a continuous improvement focus, based on site-specific knowledge, research and monitoring. Opportunities and threats should be identified early so that mining operations do not reduce rehabilitation options. Thus, delayed investment leads to delayed relinquishment beyond the operational life of a mine, adding to the cost, and in some cases, the retention of a liability for years longer than necessary”.– Federal Department of Industry, Innovation and Science
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