Authors: Coppin, NJ


Cite As:
Coppin, NJ 2013, 'An ecologist in mining – a retrospective of 40 years in mine closure and reclamation', in M Tibbett, AB Fourie & C Digby (eds), Mine Closure 2013: Proceedings of the Eighth International Seminar on Mine Closure, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Cornwall, pp. 295-309,

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The author has been involved in mine waste reclamation and mine closure for 40 years. This paper charts a personal journey from the 1970s to the present day and considers how developments in the understanding of the science and of the regulatory, social and political changes that have occurred have influenced approaches to mine closure, reclamation and post-mining regeneration. This is not just a retrospective; it also looks forward to the future, to the lessons still to be learned and where important challenges still remain: pats on the back reflecting short-term results rather than long−term sustainable function; design for closure, so often talked about but rarely taken on board meaningfully; what to do with a hole in the ground, open pits and quarries that present unique challenges and sometimes opportunities; social licence to operate and how community engagement is so important; re-inventing the wheel and the need for reclamation trials; when is a mine no longer a mine but closed, and how this uncertainty can frustrate the planned closure process; and who pays and the need to internalise the external reclamation costs. In conclusion, it is noted that it is not just research and the knowledge gained and published that is important, but how this is applied and used in a practical way, in the real world of a life-of-mine and contractual environment with financial and management constraints and risks.

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