Authors: Martin Duque, JF; Tejedor, M; Martin-Moreno, C; Nicolau, JM; Zapico, I

Open access courtesy of:


Cite As:
Martin Duque, JF, Tejedor, M, Martin-Moreno, C, Nicolau, JM & Zapico, I 2019, 'Geomorphic rehabilitation in Europe: recognition as best available technology and its role in LIFE projects', in AB Fourie & M Tibbett (eds), Mine Closure 2019: Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Mine Closure, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 133-146,

Download citation as:   ris   bibtex   endnote   text   Zotero

Geomorphic rehabilitation ([GR], also known as geomorphic reclamation or geomorphic restoration) is a general term to describe alternative methods and procedures to conventional mine rehabilitation. The main aim of GR is to replicate ‘natural’ landforms for the new conditions after mining and to restore functionality and diversity of ecosystems at degraded sites. The correct application of the GR technique ensures visual integration with surrounding landscapes. Although GR is a broad term, referring to any geomorphic restoration of land, GR is often synonymous with fluvial GR, mostly following the GeoFluvTM-Natural Regrade method. This paper describes how and why the application of GR through GeoFluv-Natural Regrade in Spain since 2009 has attracted formal recognition by the European Commission (EC) of the European Union (EU) as one, among others, of a catalogue of best available techniques (BATs) for the management of waste from extractive industries, in accordance with the European Directive 2006/21/EC. GR has been recognised as BAT at the EU for multiple reasons, including mine site monitoring results that demonstrate increased physical stability with minimised erosion from stormwater and snowmelt runoff; natural hydrological function being established; the variability within the formed landform promotes ecological diversity for vegetation and wildlife communities; construction and short and long-term maintenance and repair costs are minimised; and visual impact of the mined landscape is reduced. This paper describes also the role of GeoFluv-Natural Regrade GR in the L’Instrument Financier pour l’Environnement (LIFE) program, which is the EU’s most important funding instrument addressing environment and climate action. A focus is provided on the LIFE TECMINE project, described in detail, since it is the most recent and complete GeoFluv-Natural Regrade example in Europe. The TECMINE project is a geomorphic-based ecological restoration project in the Valencia province, within the Iberian Mountain Range and where conventional mine rehabilitation practice, based on gradient terraces, shows general and widespread failure. The demonstration project is fostered by the Administration of the Valencia Region, which seeks to test innovative techniques (GR, micro-catchments, soil amendments and new protocols of revegetation) for mine rehabilitation, promote improved practices and disseminate the best practice output through their development and analysis. Testing GR is the main focus of the project. The application of GR at the TECMINE project included (a) finding ‘natural’ and ‘stable’ landforms and landscapes to be used as reference or analogues for replication in GR, although difficult, was possible due to ancestral land transformation; (b) the steep terrain, characteristic of the Iberian Range, challenged the formation of GR GeoFluv-Natural Regrade designs, but the project demonstrated that they can be implemented in that mountain setting; (b) the mining company reported similar cost estimations for this alternative GR rehabilitation (as-built) as that for a conventional restoration design (projected); (c) a holistic approach to GR, not dealing only with topography, allowed the identification and use of limestone colluvium as an adequate growth media for initiating soil development; this solution not used before for rehabilitation in this region provided a clear and advanced contribution from the project.

Keywords: geomorphic rehabilitation, GeoFluv-Natural Regrade, best available technology, LIFE program, mine closure, Spain

Bugosh, N, Martín Duque, JF & Eckels, R 2016, ‘The GeoFluv method for mining reclamation: why and how it is applicable to closure plans in Chile’, in J Wiertz & D Priscu (eds), Proceedings of the First International Congress on Planning for Closure of Mining Operations, Gecamin, Santiago of Chile.
Bugosh, N & Epp, E 2019, ‘Evaluating sediment production from native and fluvial geomorphic reclamation watersheds at La Plata Mine’, Catena, vol. 174, pp. 383–398.
DePriest, NC, Hopkinson, LC, Quaranta, JD, Michael, PR & Ziemkiewicz, PF 2015, ‘Geomorphic landform design alternatives for an existing valley fill in central Appalachia, USA: quantifying the key issues’, Ecological Engineering, vol. 81, pp. 19–29.
DOCLM 2014, ‘Resolución de 12/11/2014, de la Consejería de Fomento, por la que se aprueba el plan estratégico de recursos minerales no energéticos de Castilla-La Mancha. Horizonte 2020 (Permine)’, Diario Oficial de Castilla – La Mancha, No. 229, pp. 36149–36336.
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations 1993, Field Measurement of Soil Erosion and Runoff, Rome.
Gagen, PJ & Gunn, J 1988, ‘A geomorphological approach to limestone quarry restoration’, in JM Hooke (ed.), Geomorphology in Environmental Planning, John Wiley & Sons, New York, pp. 121–142.
Hancock, GR, Loch, RJ & Willgoose, GR 2003, ‘The design of postmining landscapes using geomorphic principles’, Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, vol. 28, pp. 1097–1110.
Hancock, G, Martín Duque, JF & Willgoose, G 2019, ‘Geomorphic design and modelling at catchment scale for best mine rehabilitation – the Drayton mine example (New South Wales, Australia)’, Environmental Software and Modelling, vol. 114, pp. 140–151.
Howard, E, Loch, R & Vacher, CA 2011, ‘Evolution of landform design concepts’, Transactions of the Institution of Mining and Metallurgy, Section A: Mining Technology, vol., 120, no. 2, pp 112–117.
Joint Research Centre 2018, Best Available Techniques Reference Document for the Management of Waste from the Extractive Industries in Accordance with 839 Directive 2006/21/EC, Joint Research Centre, European Commission 840.
Martín Duque, JF, Sanz, MA, Bodoque, JM, Lucía, A & Martín-Moreno, C 2010, ‘Restoring earth surface processes through landform design. A 13-year monitoring of a geomorphic reclamation model for quarries on slopes’, Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, vol. 35, pp. 531–548.
Martín Duque, JF & De La Villa, J 2018, ‘Restauración geomorfológica de espacios afectados por la minería de Castilla – La Mancha. Posibilidades de aplicación a las explotaciones de áridos’, Proceedings of 5 Congreso Nacional de Áridos, Federación de Áridos, Santiago de Compostela, pp. 82–90.
Martín-Moreno, C, Tejedor, M, Martín Duque, JF, Nicolau, JM, Bladé, E, Nyssen, S, Lalaguna, L, De Lis, A, Cermeño-Martín, I & Gómez, JM 2018a, ‘Natural drainage basins as fundamental units for mine closure planning: Aurora and Pastor I quarries’, in D Priscu, (ed.), Proceedings of the Second International Congress on Planning for Closure of Mining Operations, Gecamin, Santiago, pp. 1–8.
Martín-Moreno, C, Martín Duque JF, Nicolau JM, Muñoz A & Zapico I 2018b, ‘Waste dump erosional landform stability – a critical issue for mountain mining’, Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, vol. 43, pp. 1431–1450.
Nicolau, JM 2003, ‘Trends in relief design and construction in opencast mining reclamation’, Land Degradation and Development, vol. 14, pp. 215–226.
NMMMD 2010, A Method for the Evaluation of Compliance with the Approximate Original Contour Requirements of CSMC RULE 19.8, New Mexico Mining and Minerals Division, Santa Fe.
RIVERMorph 2019, Rivermorph, computer software, viewed 29 March 2019,
Rosgen, DL 1994, ‘A classification of natural rivers’, Catena, vol. 22, pp. 169–199.
Rosgen, DL 1996, Applied River Morphology, Wildland Hydrology, Pagosa Springs.
Sawatsky, L & Beckstead, G 1996, ‘Geomorphic approach for design of sustainable drainage systems for mineland reclamation’. International Journal of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Environment, vol. 10, no. 3, pp. 127–129.
Toy, TJ & Chuse, WR 2005, ‘Topographic reconstruction: a geomorphic approach’, Ecological Engineering, vol. 24, pp. 29–35.
Waygood, C 2014, Adaptative landform design for closure, in IM Weiersbye, AB Fourie & M Tibbett (eds.), paper presented at the Ninth International Conference on Mine Closure, Johannesburg, 1–3 October 2014.
Zapico, I, Martín Duque, JF, Bugosh, N, Balaguer, L, Campillo, JV, De Francisco, C, García, J, Hernando, N, Nicolau, JM, Nyssen, S, Oria, J, Sanz, MA & Tejedor, M 2011, ‘Geomorphic and habitats reconstruction at the restoration plan of the ‘Los Quebraderos de la Serrana Quarry’ (Toledo, Spain)’, 4th World Conference on Ecological Restoration, Book of Abstracts, Society of Ecological Restoration, Washington, p. 310.
Zapico, I, Martín Duque, JF, Bugosh, N, Laronne, JB, Ortega, A, Molina, A, Martín-Moreno, C, Nicolau, N & Sánchez, L 2018, ‘Geomorphic Reclamation for reestablishment of landform stability at a watershed scale in mined sites: the Alto Tajo Natural Park, Spain’, Ecological Engineering, vol. 111, pp. 100–116.

© Copyright 2024, Australian Centre for Geomechanics (ACG), The University of Western Australia. All rights reserved.
View copyright/legal information
Please direct any queries or error reports to