Authors: Martín Duque, JF; Tejedor Palomino, M; Hancock, G; Martín Moreno, C; Sánchez Donoso, R; de la Villa Albares, J

Open access courtesy of:


Cite As:
Martín Duque, JF, Tejedor Palomino, M, Hancock, G, Martín Moreno, C, Sánchez Donoso, R & de la Villa Albares, J 2022, 'Geomorphic landform design, landscape evolution modelling and geochemical stabilisation for mine closure at the LIFE RIBERMINE project, Spain and Portugal', in AB Fourie, M Tibbett & G Boggs (eds), Mine Closure 2022: 15th International Conference on Mine Closure, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 65-78,

Download citation as:   ris   bibtex   endnote   text   Zotero

The environmental impact of mining on landscape systems is well recognised. New technologies for landscape reconstruction have been developed and advanced in recent decades alongside the recognition of the environmental impact and resultant societal expectation of a restored and integrated post-mining system. A post-mining landscape requires physical stability (and, if present, chemical stability). Australia, the United States, Canada, Chile and the European Union, among others, have mine regulations requiring non-polluting post-mining landforms. We describe mine closure actions in Spain and Portugal (LIFE RIBERMINE project) that integrate two geomorphic landform design techniques: (a) GeoFluv–Natural Regrade, for unconsolidated sandy waste dumps in Spain and pyrite waste deposits in Portugal, and (b) Talus Royal, for hard-rock residual highwalls in Spain. SIBERIA landscape evolution modelling has been used to evaluate the erosional stability of post-mining geomorphic landform designs in Spain. Acid mine drainage (AMD) chemical stabilisation and remediation measures were combined with geomorphic landform designs in Portugal. Design procedures of LIFE RIBERMINE took place in the years 2019 and 2020, being constructed in 2020, 2021 and 2022. Design and construction phases were executed as planned, with minor deviations. The monitoring procedures (lasting until 2029) are intended to verify the real effectiveness of such solutions. The improvement of the water quality downstream in the demonstration site of Spain (Santa Engracia mine, Peñalén) will be quantified by measuring the sediment emission-immission to water bodies. Erosion rate (sediment yield) at the Santa Engracia mine previous to LIFE RIBERMINE was 353 t ha-1 yr-1. The target values after restoration should range between 4 and 15 t ha-1 yr-1, forecasted by the SIBERIA modelling and measured by monitoring similar geomorphic-based solutions at nearby mines. Regarding turbidity, suspended sediment concentrations (SSC) at a pre-rehabilitation phase were 391 g l-1 and target values (baseline) are 24 g l-1. In Portugal (Lousal, Grândola), where AMD is the main problem, it is expected that the dissolved potentially toxic elements’ maximum concentration values of Pb (0.9 mg/L), Cd (0.5 mg/L), Zn (80 mg/L) and Cu (20 mg/L) are reduced to values at least closer to the values established by the Portuguese legislation for minimum water quality in surface waters (Pb – 0.05 mg/L, Cd – 0.01 mg/L, Zn – 0.5 mg/L, Cu – 0.1 mg/L). If the AMD treatment measures are effective, initial physicochemical values of pH (between 1.8 and 3.1) and conductivity (2.71–3.9 mS/cm) should also change to near common non-polluted water values (around pH – 7, conductivity – 0.75 mS/cm). LIFE RIBERMINE aims to significantly reduce mined land environmental contamination and to demonstrate the efficiency of a combination of some best available techniques for mine closure. The performance results can be used to consider applying the innovative rehabilitation and remediation designs to other mine locations, abandoned or active, elsewhere. These project remedies are expected to reduce post-closure expense and liabilities.

Keywords: GeoFluv–Natural Regrade, Talus Royal, acid mine drainage, SIBERIA, LIFE Programme, European Union

BOE 2009, Real Decreto 975/2009, de 12 de junio, sobre gestión de los residuos de las industrias extractivas y de protección y rehabilitación del espacio afectado por actividades mineras (Royal Decree 975/2009, of June 12th, for the management of waste from extractive industries and for protection and rehabilitation of sites affected by mining activities), BOE núm. 143, de 13 de junio de 2009 (BOE-A-2009-984), Ministerio de la Presidencia, Madrid, pp. 49948–49993.
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.
Diário da República 1998, Decreto-Lei nº 236/98, de 1 de Agosto (Decree-Law nº 236/98, of August 1st), Diário da República, I Série-A. Nº. 176, 1-8-1998, Lisbon.
Diário da República 2010, Decreto-Lei 10/2010, de 4 de Fevereiro (Decree-Law 10/2010, of February 4th), Diário da República Nº 24/2010, Série I de 2010-02-04, Lisbon.
European Council 2006, Directive 2006/21/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 March 2006 on the Management of Waste from Extractive Industries.
Ferreira da Silva, E, Bobos, I, Matos, JX, Patinha, C, Reis, AP & Cardoso Fonseca, E 2009, ‘Mineralogy and geochemistry of trace metals and REE in volcanic massive sulfide host rocks, stream sediments, stream waters and acid mine drainage from the Lousal mine area (Iberian Pyrite Belt, Portugal)’, Applied Geochemistry, vol. 24, pp. 383–401.
Gunn, J, Bailey, D & Gagen, P 1992, Landform Replication as a Technique for the Reclamation of Limestone Quarries, HMSO, London.
Hancock, G 2021, Erosion Assessment of the Geomorphically Reconstructed Landscape at the LIFE RIBERIMINE Project. Phase 1 – External Waste Dumps, Santa Engracia Mine, Path to Poveda. Phase 2 - Path to Poveda (Pit and In-Pit Waste Rock Dump), unpublished reports, University of Newcastle, Callaghan.
Hancock, GR, Lowry, JBC, Moliere, DR & Evans, KG 2008, ‘An evaluation of an enhanced soil erosion and landscape evolution model: a case study assessment of the former Nabarlek uranium mine, Northern Territory, Australia’, Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, vol. 33, no. 13, pp. 2045–2063.
Hancock, GR & Willgoose, GR 2018, Sustainable Mine Rehabilitation – 25 Years of the SIBERIA Landform Evolution and Long-term Erosion Model, From Start to Finish: a Life-Of-Mine Perspective, Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, Melbourne.
Howard, EJ, Loch, RJ & Vacher, CA 2011, ‘Evolution of landform design concepts’, Mining Technology. Transactions of the Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, vol. 120, pp. 112–117.
Humphries, RN 1977, ‘A new method for landscaping quarry faces’, Rock Products, vol. 80, pp. 122H–122J.
Humphries, RN 1979, ‘Landscaping hard rock quarry faces’, Landscape Design, vol. 127, pp. 34–37.
IFC 2007, Environmental, Health and Safety Guidelines for Mining, International Finance Corporation, Washington.
Legwaila, I, Lange, E & Cripps, J 2015, ‘Quarry reclamation in England. A Review of Techniques’. Journal American Society of Mining and Reclamation, vol 4, pp. 55–79.
Luís, AT, Teixeira, P, Fernandes Pinheiro Almeida, S, Matos, JX & Ferreira da Silva, E 2011, ‘Environmental impact of mining activities in the Lousal area (Portugal): Chemical and diatom characterization of metal-contaminated stream sediments and surface water of Corona stream’, Science of the Total Environment, vol. 409, pp. 4312–4325.
Martín Duque, JF, Tejedor, M, Martín Moreno, C, Nicolau, JM, Sanz Santos, MA, Sánchez Donoso, R & Gómez Díaz, JM 2020, ‘Geomorphic landscape design integrated with progressive mine restoration in clay quarries of Catalonia’, International Journal of Mining, Reclamation and Environment, vol. 35, no. 6, pp. 399–420.
Martín Duque, JF, Zapico, I, Bugosh, N, Tejedor, M, Delgado, F, Martín-Moreno, C & Nicolau, JM 2021, ‘A Somolinos quarry land stewardship history: From ancient and recent land degradation to sensitive geomorphic-ecological restoration and its monitoring’, Ecological Engineering, vol. 170, 106359.
Martín-Moreno, C, Martín Duque, JF, Nicolau, JM, Muñoz, A & Zapico, I 2018, ‘Waste dump erosional landform stability – a critical issue for mountain mining’, Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, vol. 43, pp. 1431–1450.
Ministerio de Minería 2011, Ley 20551, Regula el cierre de faenas e instalaciones mineras (Regulating the Closure of Mine Activities and Installations), Biblioteca del Congreso Nacional de Chile, Valparaíso.
Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada 1996, The Minerals and Metals Policy of the Government of Canada. Partnerships for Sustainable Development, Catalogue no. M37- 37/1996E. Minister of Public Works and Government Services: Quebec.
NMMMD 2010, A Method for the Evaluation of Compliance with the Approximate Original Contour Requirements of CSMC RULE 19.8. NMAC. New Mexico Mining and Minerals Division: Santa Fe, \
Oliveira, M, Ferreira, T, Relvas, JMRS, Pinto, AMM, Pereira, Z, Matos, J & Fernandes, C 2013, ‘Lousal, Portugal: Geologic and mining heritage of an ancient mine from Iberian Pyrite Belt’, in Actas del XIV Congreso Internacional sobre Patrimonio Geológico y Minero, Sociedad Española para la Defensa del Patrimonio Geológico y Minero.
Sánchez-Donoso, R, García Lorenzo, ML, Esbrí, JM, García-Noguero, EM, Higueras, P & Crespo, E 2021, ‘Geochemical characterization and trace-element mobility assessment for metallic mine reclamation in soils affected by mine activities in the Iberian Pyrite Belt’, Geosciences, vol. 11, no. 233.
Willgoose, GR & Riley, S 1998, ‘The long-term stability of engineered landforms of the Ranger Uranium Mine, Northern Territory, Australia: application of a catchment evolution model’, Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, vol. 23, no. 3, pp. 237–259.
Zapico, I, Laronne, JB, Martín-Moreno, C, Martín Duque, JF, Ortega, A & Sánchez-Castillo, L 2017, ‘Baseline to Evaluate Off-site Suspended Sediment-Related Mining Effects in the Alto Tajo Natural Park, Spain’, Land Degradation and Development, vol. 28, pp. 232–242.
Zapico, I, Martín Duque, JF, Bugosh, N., Laronne, JB, Ortega, A, Molina, A, Martín-Moreno, C, Nicolau, N & Sanchez Castillo, 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 2022, Australian Centre for Geomechanics (ACG), The University of Western Australia. All rights reserved.
Please direct any queries or error reports to