Authors: Kuyumcu, M

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Kuyumcu, M 2008, 'Remediation of Abandoned Lignite Mines in Eastern Germany', in AB Fourie, M Tibbett, I Weiersbye & P Dye (eds), Mine Closure 2008: Proceedings of the Third International Seminar on Mine Closure, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 419-427,

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The remediation of former lignite mining facilities is Germany's largest environmental project. In the Lusatian and Central German lignite mining districts, the focus on exploiting lignite to meet the GDR's energy requirement resulted in a substantial environmental burden in the form of abandoned tipped surface areas, residual voids, unstable slopes, extensive industrial plants, soil and groundwater contamination, waste deposits, and a major lowering of the groundwater tables. In 1994, the treatment of these lignite mining sites was assigned to Lausitzer und Mitteldeutsche Bergbau-Verwaltungsgesellschaft (LMBV), the Lusatian and Central German Mining Administration Company), as a federal corporation responsible for lignite rehabilitation. In full compliance with the planning guidelines of the state, LMBV first conceived the plans to shut down the operation in accordance with existing mining rules and regulations. Now, LMBV's planning focus has shifted to the water rights sector. For the flooding of residual open-pit voids, more than fifty approval procedures must be conducted in compliance with existing water supply legislation. More than 95% of the removal and dismantling of the former mining facilities, the material movements as well as the material compaction, which are undertaken to shape and secure the surfaces, have already been completed. In the future, LMBV's tasks will focus on the revegetation of the newly created surface areas, the rehabilitation of contaminated soil and groundwater, as well as the restoration of an essentially self- regulating water ecosystem. Because the dewatering of the mines has been reduced, and the flooding of post- mining lakes has been increased, about 7 billion m3 of groundwater recharge took place by the end of 2007. Maximizing the inflow of flood water from the rivers Spree, Schwarze Elster, and Lausitzer Neisse is LMBV's top priority. By 2015, most of the residual open-pit voids will be totally filled with water. Currently, the fill level of the mining lakes is more than 2.4 billion m3 and has, thus, reached 55% of the maximum total volume. LMBV has set up a cross-border Flood Control Centre for water management in Lusatia. This Centre ensures a continuous evaluation of the hydrological situation in order to determine the maximum amounts of flood water in Lusatia. In order to maintain high water quality in the mine lakes, further technical measures are undertaken to circumvent natural acidification. LMBV is framing these measures on the basis of current research results. The many potential uses of the post-mining landscapes with their water surface areas, wildlife preserves, and woodlands, as well as the surface areas to be used by industrial and commercial establishments, were all coordinated with regard to future utilization plans. With long-term planning, it is possible to combine tourist utilization with environmental conservation without creating conflict.

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