Widening gap between expectations and practice in Australian minesite rehabilitation

Lamb, David, Erskine, Peter D and Fletcher, Andrew (2015) Widening gap between expectations and practice in Australian minesite rehabilitation. Ecological Management and Restoration, 16 3: 186-195. doi:10.1111/emr.12179

Author Lamb, David
Erskine, Peter D
Fletcher, Andrew
Title Widening gap between expectations and practice in Australian minesite rehabilitation
Journal name Ecological Management and Restoration   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1442-7001
Publication date 2015-09-01
Year available 2015
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/emr.12179
Volume 16
Issue 3
Start page 186
End page 195
Total pages 10
Place of publication Richmond, Victoria, Australia
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell Publishing
Language eng
Abstract The basic methods for rehabilitating degraded land left after mining are reasonably well-understood and there are examples across Australia of these being currently implemented. But there are many other situations where further research will be needed to achieve rehabilitation objectives. In addition, a number of mines are yet to embark on any sustained program of rehabilitation and there is a disappointing number of cases of mines ceasing operations before rehabilitation is completed leaving sites in a badly degraded state. Overall there appear to be surprisingly few examples in Australia of post- mining rehabilitation that has reached a successful conclusion. In part, this may be simply a matter of time and the problem will be resolved as more mines reach the end of their working lives. But there is an apparent trend for mines to be placed into ‘care and maintenance’ or sold to other entities, to avoid the costs of rehabilitation. Thus, we are concerned there is a widening gap between what should be possible and what is being done in practice. We review some of the experiences of rehabilitating post-mining landscapes in Australia and conclude that problems have arisen because of (i) the inherently difficult task of restoring ecosystems at highly modified mine sites, (ii) institutional and management weaknesses and (iii) loose regulatory frameworks that allow a high level of company self-regulation. A key problem is that the importance of rehabilitation appears to rank below that of production in the minds of many mine managers and is not accorded the level of priority that the community expects. The scale of the mining industry and its capacity to cause environmental damage means that there is a need to improve the way mine rehabilitation is currently undertaken. We suggest that this might be achieved by improving research programs as well as better institutional and regulatory arrangements. The present situation represents a major ecological and financial risk to the nation as a whole and regulatory authorities need to develop more rigorous approaches to ensure effective rehabilitation standards are achieved.
Keyword Mine closure
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Centre for Mined Land Rehabilitation Publications
Official 2016 Collection
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 10 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 14 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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