Authors: Nichols, OG


DOI https://doi.org/10.36487/ACG_repo/605_Nichols

Cite As:
Nichols, OG 2006, 'Developing Completion Criteria for Native Ecosystem Reconstruction ― A Challenge for the Mining Industry', in AB Fourie & M Tibbett (eds), Proceedings of the First International Seminar on Mine Closure, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 61-74, https://doi.org/10.36487/ACG_repo/605_Nichols

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Abstract:
Companies throughout Australia and in other countries are increasingly adopting an objective of establishing a sustainable native ecosystem following mining. This raises significant issues associated with the mine closure process, specifically in relation to developing and meeting completion criteria for this native ecosystem rehabilitation – will the regulators and the broader community accept defined standards as part of an overall mine closure plan, so that if met, they will agree to lease relinquishment? Early attempts to set specific completion criteria, for example in the mineral sand mining industry, resulted in targets that were not based on what was known to be achievable using current accepted best practicable rehabilitation methods. As a result, a detailed review of rehabilitation monitoring methods and data at RGC Mineral Sands Eneabba mine was undertaken in 1996 and revised criteria were developed (Nichols, 1996; Peterson et al., 1996). Difficulties with establishing specific criteria for mine rehabilitation in semi-arid areas of the WA Goldfields were also encountered by Brearley and Osborne (2000). Both regulatory authorities and mining companies are now addressing this issue across Australia, but there are still relatively few examples of mine closure strategies that have been through a full public and technical review process and then been signed off by both the mining company and all regulatory authorities. Recent examples from Australian mining projects in different parts of the country demonstrate that significant progress has been made in relation to the development of achievable ecological completion criteria. Detailed work has been conducted at Alcoa World Alumina’s bauxite mines in WA (Nichols et al., 2005), mines in the goldfields of WA (Brearley and Osborne, 2000), coal mines in Queensland’s Bowen Basin and NSW’s Hunter Valley (Nichols 2004, 2005), CRL’s heavy mineral sand mine on North Stradbroke Island, Queensland (Nichols and Foot, 2002) and other mines. This paper reviews the approaches these companies have taken, and by focusing specifically on the coal mining studies, illustrates principles that could be adapted to a wide range of situations where the goal is to establish a sustainable native ecosystem following mining.

References:
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Developing Completion Criteria for Native Ecosystem Reconstruction
― A Challenge for the Mining Industry
O.G. Nichols
70 Mine Closure 2006, Perth, Australia
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Plenary Addresses
Mine Closure 2006, Perth, Australia 71
A
PP
EN
D
IX
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Developing Completion Criteria for Native Ecosystem Reconstruction
― A Challenge for the Mining Industry
O.G. Nichols
72 Mine Closure 2006, Perth, Australia
R
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ic
ie
nt
ro
ck
c
ov
er
to
m
ai
nt
ai
n
er
os
io
n
be
lo
w
ta
rg
et
st
an
da
rd
s (
se
e
C
rit
er
ia
3
.3
)
W
he
re
n
ec
es
sa
ry
, d
el
ay
c
lo
su
re
u
nt
il
gr
as
s a
nd
sh
ru
b
co
ve
r i
nc
re
as
es
, o
r
in
cr
ea
se
c
ov
er
b
y
se
ed
in
g
Sh
ru
bs
, g
ra
ss
es
a
nd
o
th
er
u
nd
er
st
or
ey
p
la
nt
s
A
ra
ng
e
of
n
at
iv
e
sh
ru
bs
, g
ra
ss
es
a
nd
o
th
er
u
nd
er
st
or
ey
sp
ec
ie
s h
av
e
es
ta
bl
is
he
d
th
ro
ug
h
to
ps
oi
l,
se
ed
in
g
or
re
co
lo
ni
sa
tio
n
In
ve
st
ig
at
e
th
e
fe
as
ib
ili
ty
o
f
es
ta
bl
is
hi
ng
m
or
e
sh
ru
b
or
g
ra
ss
sp
ec
ie
s a
nd
d
o
so
if
p
ra
ct
ic
ab
le
N
ox
io
us
w
ee
ds
A
m
an
ag
em
en
t p
ro
gr
am
fo
r t
he
c
on
tro
l o
f d
ec
la
re
d
pl
an
ts
a
nd
o
th
er
w
ee
ds
su
ch
a
s P
am
pa
s G
ra
ss
a
nd
C
ro
fto
n
W
ee
d
ha
s b
ee
n
im
pl
em
en
te
d
on
th
e
si
te
C
on
tro
l d
ec
la
re
d
pl
an
ts
a
nd
o
th
er
pr
ob
le
m
w
ee
ds
a
s p
er
th
e
m
an
ag
em
en
t p
ro
gr
am
Fi
re
to
le
ra
nc
e
Tr
ee
, u
nd
er
st
or
ey
a
nd
g
ra
ss
sp
ec
ie
s a
re
c
ap
ab
le
o
f e
ith
er
su
rv
iv
in
g
or
re
ge
ne
ra
tin
g
fo
llo
w
in
g
a
fir
e
R
eh
ab
ili
ta
tio
n
m
ay
b
e
to
o
yo
un
g
to
de
te
rm
in
e
th
is
; i
nv
es
tig
at
e
us
in
g
re
se
ar
ch
a
nd
/o
r l
ite
ra
tu
re
re
vi
ew
o
f
re
le
va
nt
re
se
ar
ch
o
n
ot
he
r m
in
es
D
ro
ug
ht
to
le
ra
nc
e
Tr
ee
, u
nd
er
st
or
ey
a
nd
g
ra
ss
sp
ec
ie
s a
re
c
ap
ab
le
o
f s
ur
vi
vi
ng
d
ro
ug
ht
, a
s
de
m
on
st
ra
te
d
by
m
on
ito
rin
g
an
d
re
se
ar
ch
re
su
lts
(f
ol
lo
w
in
g
a
pe
rio
d
of
se
ve
re
d
ro
ug
ht
fr
om
2
00
1-
20
03
)
If
la
rg
e-
sc
al
e
de
at
hs
h
av
e
oc
cu
rr
ed
,
co
ns
id
er
th
e
ne
ed
fo
r r
ep
la
nt
in
g
or
re
se
ed
in
g,
a
nd
w
he
th
er
m
or
e
dr
ou
gh
t
to
le
ra
nt
sp
ec
ie
s s
ho
ul
d
be
in
cl
ud
ed
in
th
e
se
ed
m
ix
Su
st
ai
na
bi
lit
y
M
on
ito
rin
g
an
d
re
se
ar
ch
re
su
lts
in
di
ca
te
th
at
th
e
re
ha
bi
lit
at
io
n
is
li
ke
ly
to
be
su
st
ai
na
bl
e
ov
er
th
e
lo
ng
-te
rm
, i
f m
an
ag
ed
a
cc
or
di
ng
to
th
e
pr
oc
ed
ur
es
d
ef
in
ed
in
C
rit
er
ia
4
b
el
ow
If
li
ke
ly
su
st
ai
na
bi
lit
y
ha
s n
ot
b
ee
n
de
m
on
st
ra
te
d
fo
r a
si
te
, d
ep
en
di
ng
o
n
th
e
ci
rc
um
st
an
ce
s,
th
e
re
sp
on
se
c
ou
ld
in
cl
ud
e
co
rr
ec
tiv
e
ac
tio
ns
, o
r
po
st
po
ni
ng
si
gn
of
f u
nt
il
it
ha
s b
ee
n
de
m
on
st
ra
te
d
3.
2
Fa
un
a
ha
bi
ta
t a
nd
fa
un
al
r
ec
ol
on
is
at
io
n
Fa
un
a
ha
bi
ta
t i
n
re
ha
bi
lit
at
ed
a
re
as
m
at
ch
es
th
at
in
so
m
e
su
rr
ou
nd
in
g
un
m
in
ed
a
re
as
, o
r w
ill
d
o
so
in
ti
m
e
In
ve
st
ig
at
e
w
he
th
er
fu
rth
er
p
la
nt
in
g
or
se
ed
in
g
m
ig
ht
b
e
re
qu
ire
d
as
p
er
C
rit
er
io
n
3.
1
Fa
un
a
re
co
lo
ni
sa
tio
n
in
ve
rte
br
at
es
St
ud
ie
s d
em
on
st
ra
te
th
at
k
ey
in
ve
rte
br
at
e
fu
nc
tio
na
l g
ro
up
s s
uc
h
as
a
nt
s
an
d
so
il
fa
un
al
c
om
m
un
iti
es
a
re
re
-e
st
ab
lis
hi
ng
In
ve
st
ig
at
e
th
e
ca
us
es
w
he
re
k
ey
gr
ou
ps
h
av
e
no
t r
ec
ol
on
is
ed
Fa
un
a
re
co
lo
ni
sa
tio
n
ve
rte
br
at
es
V
er
te
br
at
e
su
rv
ey
s d
em
on
st
ra
te
th
at
b
ird
, m
am
m
al
, r
ep
til
e
an
d
fr
og
co
m
m
un
iti
es
a
re
b
ec
om
in
g
es
ta
bl
is
he
d
in
re
ha
bi
lit
at
ed
si
te
s
In
ve
st
ig
at
e
th
e
ca
us
es
w
he
re
k
ey
ve
rte
br
at
e
gr
ou
ps
h
av
e
no
t
re
co
lo
ni
se
d
M
an
ag
em
en
t o
f f
au
na
h
ab
ita
t i
n
un
m
in
ed
a
re
as
Fa
un
a
ha
bi
ta
t o
f a
dj
ac
en
t u
nm
in
ed
a
re
as
h
as
b
ee
n
pr
ot
ec
te
d
as
st
ip
ul
at
ed
in
th
e
FF
M
P
Pr
ot
ec
t a
re
as
o
f a
dj
ac
en
t n
at
iv
e
fa
un
a
ha
bi
ta
t
Plenary Addresses
Mine Closure 2006, Perth, Australia 73
R
eh
ab
ili
ta
tio
n
C
ri
te
ri
a
St
an
da
rd
o
r
M
ile
st
on
e
R
eq
ui
re
d
Su
gg
es
te
d
C
or
re
ct
iv
e
A
ct
io
n
M
an
ag
em
en
t o
f r
ar
e
sp
ec
ie
s h
ab
ita
t
H
ab
ita
t o
f r
ar
e
or
v
ul
ne
ra
bl
e
fa
un
a
sp
ec
ie
s,
su
ch
a
s t
he
C
om
m
on
B
en
t-
w
in
ge
d
B
at
, L
itt
le
B
en
t-w
in
ge
d
B
at
a
nd
th
e
Sq
ui
rr
el
G
lid
er
, h
as
b
ee
n
m
an
ag
ed
to
p
ro
m
ot
e
th
e
sp
ec
ie
s’
c
on
se
rv
at
io
n
Ta
ke
n
ec
es
sa
ry
st
ep
s t
o
co
ns
er
ve
ha
bi
ta
t c
on
si
de
re
d
lik
el
y
to
p
ro
vi
de
ha
bi
ta
t f
or
th
es
e
sp
ec
ie
s
3.
3
L
an
df
or
m
st
ab
ili
ty
A
bs
en
ce
o
f s
ig
ni
fic
an
t e
ro
si
on
g
ul
lie
s
N
o
er
os
io
n
gu
lli
es
>
1m
d
ee
p
an
d
1
m
w
id
e
ar
e
pr
es
en
t o
n
an
y
ou
te
r
sl
op
es
G
ul
lie
s w
hi
ch
fa
il
to
m
ee
t t
he
st
an
da
rd
sh
ou
ld
b
e
re
sh
ap
ed
a
nd
re
pl
an
te
d
if
re
qu
ire
d
In
te
gr
ity
o
f w
at
er
w
ay
s
If
st
ill
re
qu
ire
d,
a
ny
c
on
st
ru
ct
ed
w
at
er
w
ay
s a
re
st
ill
in
g
oo
d
w
or
ki
ng
co
nd
iti
on
R
ep
ai
r w
at
er
w
ay
s i
f r
eq
ui
re
d
3.
4
So
il
Su
ita
bi
lit
y
So
il
fe
rti
lit
y
M
on
ito
rin
g
an
d
re
se
ar
ch
re
su
lts
sh
ow
th
at
le
ve
ls
o
f s
oi
l m
ac
ro
- a
nd
m
ic
ro
-n
ut
rie
nt
s a
re
li
ke
ly
to
b
e
su
ff
ic
ie
nt
to
e
ns
ur
e
th
at
tr
ee
s d
o
no
t
ex
pe
rie
nc
e
nu
tri
en
t d
ef
ic
ie
nc
ie
s (
e.
g.
re
fe
r t
o
R
eu
te
r a
nd
R
ob
in
so
n,
1
99
7)
D
et
er
m
in
e
th
e
ca
us
e
of
a
ny
p
ro
bl
em
s
id
en
tif
ie
d,
a
nd
w
ha
t c
or
re
ct
iv
e
ac
tio
ns
m
ay
b
e
ap
pr
op
ria
te
(e
.g
.
se
ed
in
g
of
le
gu
m
es
o
r a
pp
lic
at
io
n
of
fe
rti
lis
er
)
N
ut
rie
nt
c
yc
lin
g
St
ud
ie
s c
on
du
ct
ed
o
n
re
pr
es
en
ta
tiv
e
re
ha
bi
lit
at
ed
a
re
as
(e
.g
. d
ev
el
op
m
en
t
of
a
li
tte
r l
ay
er
a
nd
so
il
nu
tri
en
t l
ev
el
s)
in
di
ca
te
th
at
n
ut
rie
nt
c
yc
lin
g
pr
oc
es
se
s a
re
b
ec
om
in
g
es
ta
bl
is
he
d
D
et
er
m
in
e
th
e
ca
us
e
of
a
ny
p
ro
bl
em
s
id
en
tif
ie
d,
a
nd
w
ha
t c
or
re
ct
iv
e
ac
tio
ns
m
ay
b
e
ap
pr
op
ria
te
3.
5
L
an
d
U
se
S
ui
ta
bi
lit
y
Su
ita
bi
lit
y
fo
r n
at
ur
e
co
ns
er
va
tio
n
A
re
as
o
f r
eh
ab
ili
ta
tio
n
an
d
ad
ja
ce
nt
u
nm
in
ed
a
re
as
to
ge
th
er
p
os
se
ss
de
fin
ed
c
on
se
rv
at
io
n
va
lu
es
a
nd
c
ou
ld
b
e
m
an
ag
ed
fo
r t
he
p
ur
po
se
s o
f
co
ns
er
vi
ng
a
ra
ng
e
of
lo
ca
l f
lo
ra
a
nd
fa
un
a
sp
ec
ie
s a
nd
v
eg
et
at
io
n
ty
pe
s,
in
cl
ud
in
g
an
y
ra
re
fa
un
a
sp
ec
ie
s r
ec
or
de
d
D
et
er
m
in
e
w
he
th
er
fu
rth
er
re
ve
ge
ta
tio
n
or
o
th
er
m
an
ag
em
en
t
pr
oc
ed
ur
es
m
ay
b
e
re
qu
ire
d
Lo
ng
-te
rm
m
an
ag
em
en
t
M
an
ag
em
en
t r
eq
ui
re
m
en
ts
h
av
e
be
en
d
ef
in
ed
(s
ee
C
rit
er
ia
4
b
el
ow
).
Lo
ng
-te
rm
m
an
ag
em
en
t o
pe
ra
tio
ns
(e
.g
. m
ai
nt
en
an
ce
o
f a
cc
es
s t
ra
ck
s,
fir
e)
w
ill
n
ot
b
e
gr
ea
te
r t
ha
n
th
os
e
of
a
re
as
p
rio
r t
o
m
in
in
g,
o
r w
he
re
ex
tra
m
an
ag
em
en
t a
ct
io
ns
m
ay
b
e
re
qu
ire
d,
a
m
ec
ha
ni
sm
h
as
b
ee
n
pu
t i
n
pl
ac
e
fo
r a
dd
re
ss
in
g
th
es
e
D
ev
el
op
lo
ng
-te
rm
m
an
ag
em
en
t p
la
n
as
in
C
rit
er
ia
4
b
el
ow
4.
M
on
ito
ri
ng
a
nd
M
ai
nt
en
an
ce
S
ta
ge
M
on
ito
rin
g
A
m
on
ito
rin
g
pr
og
ra
m
h
as
b
ee
n
de
ve
lo
pe
d
th
at
a
dd
re
ss
es
p
os
t-c
lo
su
re
an
d
po
st
-r
el
in
qu
is
hm
en
t m
on
ito
rin
g
re
qu
ire
m
en
ts
, a
nd
d
ef
in
es
re
sp
on
si
bi
lit
ie
s f
or
c
on
du
ct
in
g
m
on
ito
rin
g
A
dd
re
ss
m
on
ito
rin
g
re
qu
ire
m
en
ts
an
d
re
sp
on
si
bi
lit
ie
s
Po
st
-c
lo
su
re
a
nd
p
os
t-r
el
in
qu
is
hm
en
t m
an
ag
em
en
t
re
qu
ire
m
en
ts
A
p
la
n
fo
r a
dd
re
ss
in
g
po
st
-c
lo
su
re
a
nd
p
os
t-r
el
in
qu
is
hm
en
t m
an
ag
em
en
t
re
qu
ire
m
en
ts
h
as
b
ee
n
de
ve
lo
pe
d
in
c
on
ju
nc
tio
n
w
ith
th
e
D
PI
M
R
a
nd
ot
he
r r
el
ev
an
t s
ta
ke
ho
ld
er
s,
an
d
re
sp
on
si
bi
lit
y
fo
r i
m
pl
em
en
tin
g
ta
sk
s h
as
be
en
a
llo
ca
te
d
D
ev
el
op
lo
ng
-te
rm
m
an
ag
em
en
t p
la
n
Fu
nd
in
g
A
m
ec
ha
ni
sm
fo
r a
llo
ca
tin
g
fu
nd
in
g
re
qu
ire
d
fo
r p
os
t-r
el
in
qu
is
hm
en
t
m
an
ag
em
en
t w
ill
b
e
de
ve
lo
pe
d
in
c
on
ju
nc
tio
n
w
ith
re
gu
la
to
ry
au
th
or
iti
es
, a
nd
o
ut
lin
ed
in
th
e
Le
as
e
R
el
in
qu
is
hm
en
t R
ep
or
t
D
ev
el
op
m
ec
ha
ni
sm
fo
r a
dd
re
ss
in
g
fu
nd
in
g
re
qu
ire
m
en
ts
fo
r p
os
t-
re
lin
qu
is
hm
en
t m
an
ag
em
en
t
Developing Completion Criteria for Native Ecosystem Reconstruction
― A Challenge for the Mining Industry
O.G. Nichols
74 Mine Closure 2006, Perth, Australia




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