New mine rehabilitation approaches explored at Singleton Mine Rehabilitation Conference

October 04, 2014

New and innovative approaches to mine rehabilitation are improving topsoil and rehabilitation results in the Hunter Valley, according to government, industry and academic speakers at the Tom Farrell Institute’s annual Mine Rehabilitation Conference in Singleton.
More than 150 miners, environmental professionals, government representatives, scientists and community members gathered to share recent research findings, policy updates and discuss best practice approaches to rehabilitation.

Tasman Willis from Glencore showed how software was being used to design rehabilitation landforms to fit with the natural landscape of the area at the company’s Mangoola mine near Muswellbrook. 
Bill Baxter shared Coal & Allied’s recent experiences improving topsoils by employing tried and true farming methods in their native vegetation rehabilitation areas. 
Dr Peter Erskine from the University of Queensland showed the progression of mine rehabilitation requirements over the past 50 years. Dr Erskine presented his view that returning mined land to native plant communities is idealistic rather than practical, and suggested that the focus should instead be on ensuring that rehabilitated sites are safe, stable, self-sustaining and non-polluting. 
Peter Elliott from consulting firm URS focussed on maximising the social, environmental and economic value and functionality of a rehabilitated landscape. Mr Elliot suggested that by engaging with stakeholders to consider rehabilitation options companies might be better placed to achieve a net benefit. 
The improvement of rehabilitated soils was the focus of a presentation from Dr Barbara Drigo from the University of Western Sydney. Dr Drigo described how rehabilitated soils can be made more productive through the use of biochar - a form of charcoal that improves soil fertility.
Government and local government speakers focussed on how policy and guidance is driving improvements in rehabilitation and offsetting outcomes.  
Martin Rush, Mayor of Muswellbrook Shire Council, discussed how council’s local mining policy has improved environmental planning outcomes and final landforms. 
The NSW Government provided updates on evolving policies and practices to improve post-mining outcomes, including the new biodiversity offsetting policy, new rules for crediting rehabilitation as an offset and a new framework of performance indicators for rehabilitation generally that will drive improved mine closure outcomes. 

You can read more about the presentations in their abstracts here.


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