Authors: Whitbread-Abrutat, PH; Coppin, NJ


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Whitbread-Abrutat, PH & Coppin, NJ 2011, 'Exploring alternative energy options for mine sites', in AB Fourie, M Tibbett & A Beersing (eds), Mine Closure 2011: Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Mine Closure, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 559-568,

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Mine sites can be ideal locations for developing alternative energy facilities which, by re-considering many of the site properties which make them problematic in the first place, are a way of converting the potential negative legacy of mine sites into a positive inheritance for the wider environment and local communities. The various properties of mine sites offer a comprehensive range of alternative energy generation possibilities including: wind, solar, geothermal heating, energy crops, mine methane, bioreactor landfills, hydropower and test-beds for a variety of more experimental power generation technologies. Mine site conversion to alternative energy generation, as with any development, must take due account of impacts on the local environment and communities. Done well such activities are favourable as they can provide extra economic value from the site during the mining operational phase, or ongoing value after operations have ceased. Other benefits can include the mitigation of clean-up costs; enabling re-employment of a skilled mining workforce and/ or new local employment opportunities; and a clean and usually quiet after-use for a mine site (and more). Despite this promising re-use option there remains widespread ignorance as to its potential. This review paper was inspired, initially, by several alternative energy projects – old and new – on mine sites in Cornwall, UK, and aims to encourage this approach to post-mining regeneration in an economic climate that remains favourable for alternative energy investment. It introduces the various site properties that make them amenable for this end-use; issues that need to be considered when contemplating this option on mine sites and how the potential of alternative energy after-use options can be combined with other modes of postmining regeneration; and the creative thinking employed behind some of these examples. The paper illustrates the key points by introducing examples and discussing case studies from around the world. Finally, the paper considers/ offers generic recommendations to encourage greater consideration of this reuse option as a means to successful post-mining regeneration.

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