Assoc. Prof. José F. Martín Duque from Complutense University of Madrid, Spain is currently a visitor researcher at the School of Environmental and Life Sciences (Earth Sciences) and the Tom Farrell Institute, The University of Newcastle
Will be presenting a Seminar on Sustainable Mining through Geomorphic Rehabilitation
When: Friday 24th November at 2:15pm
Where: University of Newcastle, Callaghan Campus, Hunter Building, Room HB15
Hosted by Global Centre for Environmental Remediation
Mining is necessary for maintaining society’s current lifestyle and it will continue to grow at a global scale, even if the use of some mineral resources may decline. However, mining can be detrimental to public health and safety, and may cause damage to the environment (on-site and off-site effects), due to mining-related removal of soils and vegetation and concomitant increased erosion, creation of large amounts of wastes and/or associated acid mine drainage (AMD) or increased suspended sediment loads in downstream waterways. The generation of solid and liquid wastes and the discharge of these wastes on to land and into waterways are arguably the greatest impacts on the environment associated with mining.
Geomorphology provides a very useful framework for understanding and quantifying stability and changes in erosion and sedimentation at those sites, which is the root of the release to wastes to the environment. But also for designing and building stable functional landforms in mine rehabilitation, process that can be improved through modelling and monitoring. These landscape design and reconstruction techniques are called Geomorphic Rehabilitation. This new branch of knowledge and practice dates back only to 1980, and has been expanded mostly since their successful application at active coal mines in New Mexico (United States) since the year 2000. GeoFluv – Natural Regrade is one common method of Geomorphic Rehabilitation, but not the only one. On its counterpart, Australia has the most extensive set of scientific papers and handbooks dealing with landform design and stability in mine rehabilitation, mostly due the application of the Landscape Evolution Model SIBERIA for this purpose. Current cutting-edge research in this field tries to merge landform design and modelling methods and packages, increasing their capabilities.
The question whether mining can be truly sustainable is difficult to answer. However, the presenter’s thesis is that it is very difficult to be sustainable if it does not properly consider landform design and modelling to reach functional stability. This is the catchment scale, since most landscape and ecological processes are driven by hydrological dynamics within drainage basins – the most common unit of landscape organization at ice-free lands on Earth.
The presentation will be illustrated with Geomorphic Rehabilitation examples from the European Union —where this technique is already considered Best Available Technique for the Management of Waste from the Extractive Industries—and from South America.