Mining provides the critical minerals and metals needed for the global society to function, however, the environmental impact can be significant. If not properly managed, mining activity can impact surrounding environments and their biodiversity. This can have disastrous results such as erosion and the release of toxins and heavy metals.
Closed or abandoned mines are very unsafe if left unrehabilitated. This is why we have mine rehabilitation, which is a sustainable response to the man-made destruction of lands through activities such as mining and drilling. Through mine rehabilitation, many heavily polluted or toxic mining sites have been successfully restored to a safe and functioning ecosystem.
What is Mine Rehabilitation?
Mine rehabilitation is the process of repairing any damage caused by mining activity. The main goal of this practice is to create a landscape that is safe for wildlife, flora, and humans. Once the mining process is complete, the land must be reverted to its natural state. Every advanced mining operation includes a plan to restore the site to its natural state upon completion. This process is referred to as “progressive reclamation.”
Mining sites can also be reclaimed and repurposed. Land reclamation refers to altering the land’s ecosystem to prepare for new cultivation or construction projects. This is usually done by creating new bodies of land and water such as river beds, lake beds, and oceans. The reclaimed space can then be used for agriculture, solar panel farms, and biofuel production, as well as recreational and tourism use.
After mining, the used land must be rehabilitated to prevent disastrous effects. If mined landscapes aren’t rehabilitated, they can negatively affect the surrounding air, water, and local agriculture severely.
Erosion of exposed soils, mineral ores, and tailings can occur which can result in earth sediments appearing in nearby waters and drainage systems, creating poor water quality. Minerals that contain heavy metals can also oxidize and affect the air quality of the area which is another health risk for the population.
Additionally, mining also contributes to deforestation, significant use of water resources, and loss of biodiversity.
Mine rehabilitation minimizes the environmental effects of mining and keeps surrounding land healthy by ensuring the stability and sustainability of the land, soil, and water of the site. It also seeks to partially or fully repair the ecosystem and prevent the pollution of surrounding environments.
How Does Mine Rehabilitation Work?
Land rehabilitation projects must take local environmental conditions into account as they play a large role in land rehabilitation. Soil, vegetation, and water bodies altered during the mining project must be brought back to pre-mining conditions or as close to it as possible.
The conservation of soil is critical in rehabilitation planning, soil assessments must be conducted throughout the mining project. In efforts to preserve soil fertility and establish new growth, topsoil is collected from the site before mining activity, then it is spread onto the area prepared for rehabilitation.
Mining activities tend to produce large amounts of waste. They must be characterized through their physical behavior and chemical reactivity and discarded or stored safely and properly. Any evidence of the mining operation is also removed.
Different Types of Mine Rehabilitation
This process involves matching the crop production of the site with the crops of surrounding farms. The land is then monitored and farmed sustainably.
Conservation efforts can help reduce the environmental challenges faced after mining. Efforts include forest management, naturalization and restoration, water management, and natural heritage protection.
Grazing refers to the practice of domestic livestock consuming wild grass or vegetation to re-distribute nutrients. Grazing can help maintain and increase the biodiversity of the area, returning it to a productive and viable farming system.
Mining operations create extremely challenging environments post-operation. Native Restoration aims to bring back the native vegetation of the site. Native flora is reintroduced to the soil in hopes of establishing a functioning ecosystem that includes native plant and wildlife species.
American Mine Services
Mining and land rehabilitation demands significant patience, accuracy, and examination. We understand that land rehabilitation doesn’t start at the end of a mining project, it takes place during and before the mining process. Rehabilitation is one of the first things that must be considered before mining, it is a responsibility that supersedes the operation itself. AMS will help you create a mining design plan that emphasizes a secure and structured rehabilitation plan that adheres to federal mining codes.
AMS is dedicated to providing the best mining services available. For many years, AMS has worked to reclaim landscapes once used for mining. Our team of supervisors, experienced crew members, and response units are trained to deal with various mining environments safely and efficiently.