Whitbread-Abrutat, PH, Kendle, AD & Coppin, NJ 2013, 'Lessons for the mining industry from non-mining landscape restoration experiences', 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. 625-639, https://doi.org/10.36487/ACG_rep/1352_52_Whitbread-Abrutat
Mining is a temporary land use that can produce great economic value from a small physical footprint, although sometimes with an environmental and social footprint that can be devastated by the activity. Nevertheless, mining has the potential to create a foundation for real (sustainable) development in the locality and region around the mine.
In this paper, landscape restoration is defined as the improvement of degraded environments on a large scale that enhances ecological integrity while improving peoples’ lives. There is a growing realisation in many parts of the world that only at a landscape level can restoration projects deliver the scale of environmental and socio-economic improvements that will contribute significantly to the provision of ecosystem services and the development of meaningful, long-term livelihood opportunities. This paper considers several world-class – yet non-mining – landscape restoration projects to extract signposts to good practice of relevance to the mining industry.
How a mine integrates with the surrounding environmental and socio-economic landscapes plays a large part in determining its post-closure success. Typically, mine operators are proficient at considering this connectivity from a supply chain perspective during the development and operational phases. But closure is often an afterthought, with the company focussed primarily on reducing the ongoing environmental and public health and safety risks of the site itself. Despite the exertions of accepted good practice, little thought onsite and in the wider corporate body is usually given to the ecological/ social/ economic possibilities engendered by the ‘blank canvas’ of the post-mining landscape and its environs. The connectivity mentioned previously is, arguably, most important at this stage in order to maximise the mine’s success in terms of post-closure sustainability outcomes.
This paper reviews accepted good industry practice in mine closure, summarising the pertinent points and addressing its limitations, and considers how good practice can be improved when pertinent lessons are extracted from non-mining landscape restoration projects. The ultimate aim is to address the silo thinking that occurs within the industry and to encourage the dismantling of barriers between mining and other land use disciplines.
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