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Inspection of the few documented criteria for evaluating whether rehabilitated minesites have reached a stage
where bond-release can occur, or where responsibility for the land can be relinquished, reveals a largely
generic approach. Criteria include site safety, soil stability, and aesthetic issues. The biological criteria tend
to be extremely generic in their approach, and include plant cover, plant density, plus a range of surrogate
indicators of animal habitat, such as the existence of coarse woody debris. Although a range of habitat
factors may be present, there are often no data to indicate whether the previous occupants have returned, or
whether the ecosystem is functioning in a self-sustaining way. When fauna are included, the focus is
generally on the vertebrates, as these are the groups that engender public interest and concern. Invertebrates
tend to be omitted from the agenda, even though they play a vital role in ecosystem functioning. This paper
presents a case for including invertebrates in the list of mine closure Completion Criteria. It does so on the
premise that invertebrates comprise the bulk of animal biomass and most of its biodiversity, and also because
of their role in processes such as pedogenesis, nutrient cycling, pollination, etc. Two studies which ‘road-
test’ the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of various invertebrate groups as indicators of rehabilitation success
are presented, one on the Iluka sand mines at Eneabba, WA, and the other on the Worsley Alumina bauxite
mines, near Boddington, WA. In both cases, groups such as ants, beetles, spiders and hemipterans provide
insightful data on the way in which the ecosystem is recovering. The degree to which these groups track
ecosystem recovery often exceeds that of the vertebrates. Furthermore, the cost of surveying certain groups
of invertebrates is far more economical in terms of expense and data-yield than that which is involved in
surveying vertebrates. The former does require specialised expertise and equipment. However, such expertise
is now becoming available in the consulting industry and the necessary equipment is inexpensive, so this
should not be seen as an impediment. In view of the resources required to carry out this work, and also of the
need to provide rapid assessments of closure success in various minesites, it is recommended that
invertebrates be used in a subset of the mined areas, using representative areas of mature rehabilitation.
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