Mine rehabilitation is the process of repairing the damage done by mining activities. This can sometimes involve making the site safe and stable, however global best practice strives to create a landscape that can support future uses of the land.
According to the Minerals Council of Australia, there are several different types of mine rehabilitation.
Coal & Allied’s rehabilitation in New South Wales’ Hunter Valley has demonstrated that alluvial land used for mining can be rehabilitated to match the crop production of nearby farms.
In July 2013, a crop of Triticale, a hybrid of wheat and rye, was planted on the land, the first commercial crop since theproductivity trial ended in 2007. Now, after three years of production, hay yields are above the district average. The Coal & Allied experience has provided new knowledge on the rehabilitation of higher value agricultural land. The land will continue to be farmed and monitored and will ultimately be a valuable asset to relinquish at the end of the mine life.
Rehabilitation of the Bluestone Mines’ Renison Bell tin mine tailings storage facility in western Tasmania is an example of the application of good science and commitment to solve environmental challenges. Two tailings storage facilities (TSF) at Renison, first used in 1968, had a history of discharging elevated levels of dissolved metals, sulphate and acidity, which posed a risk to water quality in the adjacent Lake Pieman.
Innovative geochemical studies carried out with assistance from CSIRO revealed a way to create a cap to exclude oxygen and neutralise water. Once implemented, water quality rapidly improved and discharges were able to meet environmental standards.
Glencore’s Liddell open-cut coal mine has achieved high quality rehabilitation of grazing pasture, demonstrating mined land can be returned to productive and sustainable farming.
Successful grazing trials revealed cattle on the rehabilitated land grew faster and averaged an extra 79 kilograms over cattle on neighbouring pasture. At the abattoir, the extra weight and condition of the cattle grazed on rehabilitated land returned approximately 25 per cent higher price, or $220 per head.
While the trial has not yet concluded, indications are the grazing of cattle on rehabilitated land at the Liddell coal mine is commercially viable and may provide superior pasture compared to surrounding unmined paddocks.
4. NATIVE RESTORATION
Rehabilitation work at Cristal Mining’s Ginkgo minerals sands mine in south western New South Wales demonstrates the re-establishment of a semi-arid native vegetation ecosystem in an extremely challenging environment. Native flora species cover once bare soil and many native lizard and bird species have resettled in the area. Monitoring sites measure the progress of rehabilitated areas. An innovative program to count ants, which are a key indicator of ecosystem development, has also been implemented. Rehabilitation work at the Ginkgo mine demonstrates a commitment to the landscape and developing innovative techniques to return it to a diverse, functioning ecosystem.
How to drive progressive rehabilitation and closure
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Want to find out more about mine rehabilitation?
- What is mine rehabilitation and closure?
- What are some key challenges facing mine rehabilitation and closure?
- How much does mine rehabilitation cost?
- What are the advancements in mine rehabilitation technology?
- What are some best practice mine rehabilitation methods?
- How to take a macro and micro approach to mine rehabilitation
- What is CRC-TiME?
- How to become an industry leader in mine rehabilitation
- Download this free Guide to Mine Rehabilitation in Australia