Burge, H 2012, 'Mining as a scar on the landscape', in AB Fourie & M Tibbett (eds), Mine Closure 2012: Proceedings of the Seventh International Conference on Mine Closure
, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 223-230, https://doi.org/10.36487/ACG_rep/1208_21_Burge
Social perception is an important component in the approval and community engagement process, for a new mining project, extensions to an existing mine and the acceptance of the final landform at the completion of mining activities.
People’s perception of the landscape is constructed from views to the mine from surrounding viewpoints, from roads and highways, from houses and places of work, even from aerial views and it is the amalgamation of all these views which forms a person’s ‘cognitive landscape’, the image of the landscape that people have in their mind. When assessing acceptability of a change then the more that the final landscape appears a ‘natural’ component of the cognitive landscape, the more appealing or importantly, the less disturbing, the landform will be to the community and to the regulators.
Mining often generates quantities of waste rock material that are stored, in a benched and un-natural geometric landform. This un-natural landform is not an appealing feature within a cognitive landscape. At the end of mine life a mining company can be asked to change the form of this ‘mining landscape’ to one that appears more natural. This can be an expensive operation.
However, waste rock dumps and tailings storage facilities can be creatively formed in a way that mimics nature and that people will find aesthetically appealing while still providing a stable land form and a basis for the reestablishment of indigenous plant communities. This is fundamentally different from a standard engineering approach that creates a landform that is purely based on engineering constraints. The geomorphic design approach includes:
Geomorphic design principles can provide a basis for a sustainable landscape that, at closure will not be perceived as elements to be fixed in a final bout of rehabilitation, often at considerable cost.
There is also the issue of how to best communicate the changes that would be brought about to the landscape to the regulators, the community and cognitive landscapes.
This paper will give examples of geomorphic design and show how these can be communicated successfully to the broader community.
Environment Australia (2002) Landform design for rehabilitation, Overview of Best Practice Environmental Management in Mining, Department of the Environment, pp. 44-45.
IFC (2012) International Finance Corporation, Guidelines, Performance Standards on Environmental and Social Sustainability, January 1, 2012.