Authors: Hattingh, R; Williams, DJ; Corder, G

Open access courtesy of:


Cite As:
Hattingh, R, Williams, DJ & Corder, G 2019, 'Applying a regional land use approach to mine closure: opportunities for restoring and regenerating mine-disturbed regional landscapes', in AB Fourie & M Tibbett (eds), Mine Closure 2019: Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Mine Closure, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 951-968,

Download citation as:   ris   bibtex   endnote   text   Zotero

Historically, mining companies needed to be good at one thing – mining. The end goal was also clear – mine the ore and walk away. However, as societal perspectives have shifted and communities have started to demand (and expect) functional post-mining landscapes with manageable residual liabilities, this linear business approach has needed to adapt. Industry knowledge of the importance of the post-mining land use goal driving land rehabilitation objectives is becoming well understood. However, the capabilities of the rehabilitated land – ecologically, socially and economically, as well as stakeholder involvement in decision-making on what the rehabilitated land could supply, are considered a major challenge in mine closure planning. To edge closer to relinquishment, ‘walk away’ has turned into ‘resilient substitute landscapes’. This paper will discuss the fundamental need for integration of mine site rehabilitation into wider regional landscape planning, towards being able to create opportunities for restoring and regenerating minedisturbed landscapes. A global perspective on current existing post-mining land uses will be provided, as well as key considerations for selection of these land uses. The importance of integrating site-specific rehabilitation plans within overarching regional land planning frameworks will also be discussed.

Keywords: land use, regional closure planning, resilient landscapes

Australian Renewable Energy Agency 2019, ‘South Australian zinc mine to be converted into Australia’s first compressed air facility for renewable energy storage’, ARENA Wire, viewed 15 February 2019,
Benchmark Foundation 2014, Policy Gap 9, South African Coal Mining – Corporate Grievance Mechanisms, Community Engagement Concerns and Mining Impacts, Johannesburg.
Binns, JA & Nel, E 2003, ‘The village in a game park: local response to the demise of coal mining in Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa’, Economic Geography, vol. 79, p. 41.
Blignaut, J, Aronson, J & De Wit, M 2014, ‘The economics of restoration: looking back and leaping forward’, Annals of the New York Academy of Science, vol. 1322, pp. 35‒47.
Bloodworth, AJ, Scott, PW & McEvoy, FM 2009, ‘Digging the backyard: mining and quarrying in the UK and their impact on future land use’, Land Use Policy, vol. 26S, pp. S317–S325.
Botha, I 2014, Aquaponics as a Productive Rehabilitation Alternative in the Mpumalanga Highveld Coalfields, masters’ thesis, University of Bloemfontein, Bloemfontein.
Bowie, L & Fulcher, J 2017, ‘Planning for post-mining land uses’, Planning Institute of Australia (Qld) Annual Conference 2017, Planning Institute of Australia, Bundaberg.
Boyer, J 2015, ‘Mine closure: Canada’s policy framework’, Intergovernmental Forum on Mining, Minerals, Metals and Sustainable Development, International Institute for Sustainable Development, Winnipeg.
Brumfitt, IM 2013, Reconciling mining and Land use Planning Law: Challenges Facing Cooperative Governance in South Africa, masters’ thesis, University of Cape Town, Cape Town.
Bureau for Food & Agricultural Policy 2015, The Balance of Natural Resources: Understanding the Long-Term Impact of Mining on Food Security in South Africa, Pretoria.
Cao, X 2007, ‘Regulating mine land reclamation in developing countries: the case of China’, Land Use Policy, vol. 24, pp. 472‒483.
Chaminuka, P, Udo, HMJ, Eilers, K & van der Zijpp, A 2014, ‘Livelihood roles of cattle and prospects for alternative land uses at the wildlife/livestock interface in South Africa, Land Use Policy, vol. 38, pp. 80‒90.
Choi, Y & Song, J 2016, ‘Sustainable development of abandoned mine areas using renewable energy systems: a case study of the photovoltaic potential assessment at the tailings dam of abandoned Sangdong Mine, Korea’, Sustainability, vol. 8, no. 1320,
Cousins, B & Scoones, I 2010, ‘Contested paradigms of ‘viability’ in redistributive land reform: perspectives from Southern Africa’, Journal of Peasant Studies, vol. 37, no. 1, pp. 31‒66.
Cummings, J 2014, ‘The mining industry and land rehabilitation in Australia – once were leaders’, Journal of Cleaner Production, vol. 84, pp. 39‒40.
D’Souza, G, Miller, D, Semmens, K & Smith, D 2003, ‘Mine water aquaculture as an economic development strategy: linking coal mining, fish farming, water conservation and recreation’, Aquaculture America Conference,
Dale, VH, Brown, S, Haeuber, RA, Hobs, NT, Huntly, N, Naiman, RJ, … Valone, TK 2000, ‘Ecological principles and guidelines for managing the use of land’, Ecological Applications, vol. 10, no. 3, pp. 639‒670.
Danielson, L & Nixon, M 2010, ‘Current Regulatory Approaches to Mine Closure in the United States’, in A Warhurst & L Noronha (eds), Environmental Policy in Mining: Corporate Strategy and Planning for Closure, Lewis Publishers, Boca Raton.
De Groot, R 2005, ‘Function-analysis and valuation as a tool to assess land use conflicts in planning for sustainable, multi-functional landscapes’, Landscape and Urban Planning, vol. 75, iss. 3–4, pp. 175–186.
Department of Minerals and Energy 2008, Regional Gold Mining Closure Strategy for the Witwatersrand Basin, Sustainable Development through Mining Project Reports, Council for Geoscience Report No. 2008-0179, Pretoria.
Doley, D, Audet, P & Mulligan, D 2012, ‘Examining the Australian context for post-mined land rehabilitation: reconciling a paradigm for the development of natural and novel ecosystems among post-disturbance landscapes’, Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, vol. 163, pp. 85‒93.
Dorning, MA, Koch, J, Shoemaker, DA & Meentemeyer, RK 2015, ‘Simulating urbanization scenarios reveals trade-offs between conservation planning strategies’, Landscape & Urban Planning, vol. 136, pp. 28‒39.
Evidence and Lessons from Latin America 2010, Land use Planning for Extractives Industries – Policy Brief, viewed 2 September 2018,
German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development 2011, Land use Planning – Concept, Tools and Applications, Eschborn.
Gulati, M, Jacobs, I, Jooste, A, Naidoo, D & Fakir, S 2013, ‘The water-energy-food security nexus: challenges and opportunities for food security in South Africa’, Aquatic Procedia, vol. 1, pp. 150‒164.
Gutzler, C, Helming, K, Balla, D, Dannowski, R, Deumlich, D, Glemnitz, M, … Zander, P 2015, ‘Agricultural land use changes –
a scenariobased sustainability impact assessment for Brandenburg, Germany’, Ecological Indicators, vol. 48, pp. 505‒517.
Hall, J 2018, Genex Secures Funding for Hydro Project, viewed 15 February 2019, ‌1/2/6612684/genex_secures_funding_for_hydro_project.pdf
Han, J & Zhang, Y 2014, ‘Land policy and land engineering’, Land Use Policy, vol. 40, pp. 64‒68.
Hancox, PJ 2016, ‘The coalfields of South-Central Africa: a current perspective’, Episodes, Journal of International Geoscience, vol. 39, no. 2, pp. 407‒428.
Isolde, R 2009, ‘Brown coal planning as a basis for sustainable settlement development’, Procedia Earth and Planetary Science, vol. 1, pp. 857‒867.
Jeronimo, RP, Rap, E & Vos, J 2015, ‘The politics of land use planning gold mining in Cajamarca, Peru’, Land Use Policy, vol. 49,
pp. 104‒117.
Jones, CE & Maclean, MIA 2013, ‘Reclaimed landscapes – incorporating cultural values’, in M Tibbett, AB Fourie & C Digby (eds), Proceedings of the Eight International Mine Closure Conference, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 441‒446.
Kabir, SM, Rabbie, F, Chowdhury, MB & Akbar, D 2015, ‘A review of mine closure planning and practice in Canada and Australia’, World Review of Business Research, vol. 5, no. 3, pp. 140‒159.
Kepe, T & Tessaro, D 2014, ‘Trading-off: rural food security and land rights in South Africa’, Land Use Policy, vol. 36, pp. 267-274.
Kitula, AGN 2006, ‘The environmental and socio-economic impacts of mining on local livelihoods in Tanzania: a case study of the Geita District’, Journal of Cleaner Production, vol. 14, iss. 3–4, pp. 405‒414.
Kivinen, S 2017, ‘Sustainable post-mining land use: are closed meta mines abandoned or re-used space?’, Sustainability, vol. 9, no. 1705,
Kotze, C 2014, ‘Biogas power generation has huge potential for post-mining land use’, Mining Weekly, 7 November 2014, pp. 9‒13.
Lane, A & Ndlovu, J 2012, ‘The promise of Africa’, Proceedings of the XXVI International Mineral Processing Congress, International Mineral Processing Congress, Rhondebosch.
Larondelle, N & Haase, D 2012, ‘Valuing post-mining landscapes using an ecosystem approach – an example from Germany’, Ecological Indicators, vol. 18, pp. 567‒574.
Latimer, C & Hannam, P 2018, ‘AGL to transform coal mine to pumped hydro for Liddell shortfall’, viewed 15 February 2019,
Lilieholm, RJ, Cronan, CS, Johnson, ML, Meyer, SR & Owen, D 2012, Alternative Futures Modelling in Maine’s Penobscot River Watershed: Forging a Regional Identity for River Restoration, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy Working Paper, Lincoln Institute Project Code: WP12R, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, Massachusetts.
Limpitlaw, D & Briel, A 2013, ‘Post-mining land use opportunities in developing countries’, Proceedings of the Mining, Environment and Society Conference, The South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, Johannesburg, pp. 10–12.
Lottermoser, BG 2011, ‘Recycling, reuse and rehabilitation of mine wastes’, Elements, vol. 7, pp. 405‒410.
Lupp, G, Steinhauber, R, Starick, A, Gies, M, Bastian, O & Albrecht, J 2014, ‘Forcing Germany’s renewable energy targets by increased energy crop production: a challenge for regulation to secure sustainable land use practices’, Land Use Policy, vol. 36,
pp. 296‒306.
Maczkowiack, B & Smith, C 2012, ‘Risk assessment models for post-mining land use’, Proceedings of Life-of-Mine 2012, Australian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, Melbourne.
Maczkowiack, B, Smith, CS, Slaughter, GJ, Mulligan, DR & Cameron, DC 2012, ‘Grazing as a post-mining land use: a conceptual model of the risk factors’, Agricultural Systems, vol. 109, pp. 76‒89.
Mallo, JC, De Marco, SG, Bazzini, SM & Del Rio, JL 2010, ‘Aquaculture: an alternative option for the rehabilitation of old mine pits in the Pampasian Region, Southeast of Buenos Aires, Argentina’, Mine Water and the Environment, vol. 29, no. 4, pp. 285‒293.
Marra, M, Keene, T, Skousen, JG & Griggs, T 2013, ‘Switchgrass yield on reclaimed surface mines for bioenergy production’, Journal of Environmental Quality, vol. 42, no. 3, pp. 696‒703,
Marvey, B 2009, ‘Oil crops in biofuel applications: South Africa gearing up for a bio-based economy’, Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa, vol. 5,
Minerals Council of Australia 2016, Mine Rehabilitation in the Australian Minerals Industry, Kingston.
Morrisen-Saunders, A, Gorey, P, Doepel, D, Mregha, H & McHenry, MP 2014, ‘Enhancements in mine closure planning in Western Australia and possible applications for Africa’, in IM Weiersbye, AB Fourie, M Tibbett & K Mercer (eds), Proceeding of the Ninth International Mine Closure Conference, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth.
Norman, LM, Feller, M & Villarreal, ML 2012, ‘Developing spatially explicit footprints of plausible land use scenarios in the Santa Cruz Watershed, Arizona and Sonora’, Landscape and Urban Planning, vol. 107, pp. 225‒235.
Otchere, F, Veiga, M, Hinton, J, Farias, R & Hamaguchi, R 2004, ‘Transforming open mining pits into fish farms: Moving towards sustainability’ Natural Resources Forum, vol. 28, pp. 216‒223.
Palmer, A 2016, ‘15 Adaptive re-uses for old mines’, Mental Floss, 15 March,
Pearman, G 2009, 101 Things to do with a Hole in the Ground, Post-Mining Alliance, Eden Project, Cornwall.
Picarelli, S, Resende, A, Vieria, G, Costa, FL & Goncales, JA 2014, ‘Opportunities for future use in mine closure’, Proceedings of Mine Closure Solutions 2014, p. 7.
Pijpers, R 2014, ‘Crops and carats: exploring the interconnectedness of mining and agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa’, Futures, vol. 62, pp. 32‒39.
Polster, D 2011, Natural Processes: Restoration of Drastically Disturbed Sites, Polster Environmental Services Ltd, British Columbia.
Resende, AG, Picarelli, S, Vieira, G, Costa, FL & Chiodeto, B 2014, ‘Regional closure plans for iron ore mines: a new approach’, InfoMine, Proceedings of Mine Closure Solutions 2014, Brazil, presentation.
Sibanda, L & Broadhurst, JL 2018, ‘Exploring an alternative approach to mine waste management in the South African gold sector’, in C Wolkersdorfer, L Sartz, A Weber, J Burgess & G Tremblay (eds), Proceedings of the Eleventh ICARD Conference, International Mine Water Association, Pretoria, pp. 849‒856.
Song, J & Choi, Y 2016, ‘Analysis of the potential for use of floating photovoltaic systems on mine pit lakes: case study at the Ssangyong open-pit limestone mine in Korea’, Energies, vol. 9, no. 102,
Sudo, C 2017, ‘5 repurposed mines and quarries that will blow your mind’, Bisnow, 22 September, ‌national/news/construction-development/5-adaptive-reuses-of-mines-and-quarries-that-will-blow-your-mind-79452
Tibbet, M, Mulligan, D & Audet, P 2012, ‘Recent advances in restoration ecology: examining the modern Australian agro-ecological and post-mining landscapes’, Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, vol. 163, pp. 1‒2.
Van Zyl, D, Agioutantis, Z & Joyce, S 2016, ‘Waste note, want not – rethinking the tailings and mine waste issue’, AusIMM Bulletin, December 2016, viewed 15 February 2019,
Wang, J 2012, ‘Study on sustainable utilization strategy of the mining wastelands’, Procedia Environmental Sciences, vol. 16,
pp. 764‒768.
Weatherhead, EK & Howden, NJK 2009, ‘The relationship between land use and surface water resources in the UK’, Land Use Policy, vol. 26S, pp. S243–S250.
Woodruff, SC & Bendor, TK 2016, ‘Ecosystem services in urban planning: comparative paradigms and guidelines for high quality plans’, Landscape and Urban Planning, vol. 152, pp. 90‒100.
Wu, X, Zuo, X & Fang, Y 2011, ‘Evaluation of reclamation land productivity in mining districts’, Transactions of the Nonferrous Metallurgical Society of China, vol. 21, pp. 717‒722.
Zheng, N, Fu, B, Lu, Y & Zheng, Z 2014, ‘Changes of livelihood due to land use shifts: a case study of Yanchang County in the Loess Plateau of China’, Land Use Policy, vol. 40, pp. 28‒35.

© Copyright 2022, Australian Centre for Geomechanics (ACG), The University of Western Australia. All rights reserved.
Please direct any queries or error reports to