Authors: Bennett, K


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Bennett, K 2016, 'Abandoned mines — environmental, social and economic challenges', in AB Fourie & M Tibbett (eds), Mine Closure 2016: Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Mine Closure, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 241-252,

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The environmental, social and economic problems associated with abandoned mine sites are serious and global. Abandoned mines may pose unique and complex challenges, often leaving negative impacts such as: safety and health hazards for people and animals, neglected mining heritage and other assets, in addition to economically-depressed communities. Acid and metalliferous drainage (AMD), also known as acid mine drainage, is one of the negative environmental impacts on water quality that can result in a subsequent loss of biodiversity. AMD impacts can occur from underground workings, open pit mine faces, waste rock landforms, and tailings storage areas that were left exposed to the elements or inadequately rehabilitated, resulting in the contamination of water with dissolved metals and acidity. Social and economic impacts on countries and individual communities can be due to issues such as: a loss of the productive land, loss or degradation of groundwater, pollution of surface water by sediments or salts, changes in river regimes, air pollution from dust or toxic gases or risk of falls into shafts or open pits. Resources for cleaning up abandoned mines are very limited in most jurisdictions. A strong policy framework is required and, in order to be effective, primary policy elements must be embedded in the legislative framework. This paper explores the international dialogue that has taken place on abandoned mines, our improved understanding of legal liability, funding remediation and rehabilitation and the strategies that are in place to minimise the likelihood of more mines being abandoned.

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