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Reclamation of Mine-impacted Land for Ecosystem Recovery

ISBN: 978-1-119-05790-1
232 pages
April 2016, Wiley-Blackwell
Reclamation of Mine-impacted Land for Ecosystem Recovery (1119057906) cover image


Mining activities significantly impact the environment; they generate huge quantities of spoil, promote deforestation and the loss of agricultural production, as well as releasing contaminants that result in the loss of valuable soil resources. These negative impacts are now being recognized and this book shows how corrective action can be taken.

The introduction of sustainable mining requires mitigation strategies that start during the mine planning stage and extend to after mineral extraction has ceased, and post-closure activities are being executed.

Reclamation of Mine-impacted Land for Ecosystem Recovery covers: methods of rejuvenation of mine wasteland including different practices of physical, chemical and ecological engineering methods; benefits of rejuvenation: stabilization of land surfaces; pollution control; aesthetic improvement; general amenity; plant productivity; and carbon sequestration as well as restoring biodiversity and ecosystem function; best management practices and feasible solutions to the impacts of mining which will reduce the pollution load by reducing the discharge rate and the pollutant concentration; reduce erosion and sedimentation problems, and result in improved abandoned mine lands; and ecosystem development.

The authors explain how mining impacts on soil properties and how soil carbon reserves/soil fertility can be restored when mining has ceased. Restoration involves a coordinated approach that recognizes the importance of key soil properties to enable re-vegetation to take place rapidly and ecosystems to be established in a low cost and sustainable way. 

This book’s unique combination of the methods for reclamation technologies with policies and best practice worldwide will provide the background and the guidance needed by scientists, researchers and engineers engaged in land reclamation, as well as by industry managers.

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Table of Contents

Preface ix

About the authors xi

Acknowledgements xiii

1 Introduction 1

1.1 Background and purpose 1

1.2 Key concepts and definitions 3

1.3 Supporting information 5

1.4 Structure/layout of the book 6

2 Mining and ecological degradation 11

2.1 Background 11

2.1.1 The need for land reclamation 12

2.2 Mining in India 12

2.2.1 Coal 14

2.2.2 Iron ore 15

2.2.3 Copper, lead and zinc mining 16

2.2.4 Bauxite mining 18

2.2.5 Chromite mining 18

2.2.6 Limestone and other calcareous stone mining 19

2.3 Mining in other countries 20

2.3.1 Mining in Australia 20 Coal 20 Uranium 21

2.3.2 Mining in the United States 21 Coal 21 Copper 21 Silver 21 Gold 21 Uranium 21

2.3.3 Mining in South Africa 22 Coal 22 Iron ore 22 Gold 22 Diamond 22 Platinum and palladium 23 Chromium 23

2.3.4 Mining in the United Kingdom 23 Coal mining 23 Iron ore copper, tin, lead and silver mining 24 Industrial minerals 24

2.3.5 Mining in China 25 Gold 25 Coal 26

2.4 Types of mine waste disposal 27

2.5 Wastelands 29

2.6 Waste generation 30

2.7 Solid waste generation 33

2.8 Ecological degradation and disturbance 35

2.9 Restoration ecology and ecological restoration 39

2.10 Societal ecology 43

3 Regulation of reclamation 47

3.1 Background 47

3.2 Mining laws and policies in India 48

3.2.1 Status of legislation for land reclamation 48

3.2.2 National Mineral Policy: environmental protection 49

3.2.3 The Mines and Minerals (Regulation and Development) – MMRD Act, 1957 49

3.2.4 The Mineral Concession Rules, 1960 49

3.2.5 Mineral Conservation and Development Rule, 1988 49

3.2.6 Forest Conservation Rule, 1980 53

3.2.7 National Forest Policy, 1988 53

3.2.8 Policy Statement on Abatement of Pollution, Environment and Development, 1992 53

3.2.9 National Mineral Policy, 1993 53

3.2.10 National Conservation Strategy and Policy Statement on Environment and Development 54

3.2.11 Environmental auditing and accounting of geographical resources excavated from mines 54

3.2.12 EMP for sustainable mining activities 54

3.2.13 Displacement in the mining sector 55 R&R policies 57

3.2.14 Gaps in mining and environmental legislation and recommendations 58

3.3 International policies and legislations 58

3.3.1 Mine reclamation laws and policies in the United States 60 Intent of the legislature 62 State policy for the reclamation of mined lands 62 National Mining and Minerals Policy 63

3.3.2 Mining laws and policies in the United Kingdom 63

3.3.3 Mining laws and policies in European Union 64 Legislative framework for the safe management of mining waste 65

3.3.4 Mining laws and policies in Australia 65

3.3.5 Mining laws and policies in Canada 66

3.3.6 Mining laws and policies in South Africa 67

3.3.7 Mining laws and policies in Sweden 68

4 Development processes in disturbed ecosystems 71

4.1 Background 71

4.1.1 Conceptual framework: disturbance 71

4.2 Disturbance and ecosystem processes 73

4.3 Succession 74

4.3.1 Conditions for succession 75 Initial soil formation 75

4.3.2 Primary succession 76

4.3.3 Secondary succession 77

4.4 Ecosystem development in mine spoils 79

4.5 Options in restoration 80

4.5.1 Re-vegetation objectives 80

4.5.2 Implications for management 82

5 Benefits of reclamation 85

5.1 Background 85

5.2 Establishment of ecological succession 87

5.3 Recovery of damaged ecosystems 88

5.3.1 Biological macro ]aggregate formation 90

5.3.2 Enhancement of soil fertility 92

5.3.3 Establishing a nutrient supply 93

5.3.4 Remediation of heavy metals 95

5.3.5 Carbon sequestration 100 The mechanism of carbon protection 101

5.3.6 Aesthetic enhancement 103

5.4 Rebuilding soil structure 104

5.4.1 Recharging soil microbe activity 105 Bacteria 105 Mycorrhiza 105

5.4.2 Re ]establishment of nutrient cycle 106 Carbon cycle 107 Nitrogen cycle 107

5.5 Determining the effectiveness of soil reclamation 108

5.6 Costs of bio ]reclamation and employment generation 109

6 Best practice reclamation of mine spoil 111

6.1 Background 111

6.2 Soil management practices 111

6.2.1 Topography and soil erosion 112

6.2.2 Compaction and bulk density 112

6.2.3 Deep ripping/tillage 112

6.2.4 Ground cover residue management 113

6.2.5 Water management 113

6.2.6 Woodland management 118

6.2.7 Practices to enhance carbon sequestration 118

7 Carbon uptake into mine spoil in dry tropical ecosystems 121

7.1 Background 121

7.2 Soil carbon sequestration 124

7.3 Carbon allocation in woody plants 125

7.4 Mine spoil 127

7.5 Role of mine soil properties on C sequestration 129

7.6 Role of root formation in carbon sequestration 130

7.7 Reclamation via re-vegetation to enhance carbon sequestration 131

7.8 Ecosystem productivity and C sequestration 132

7.8.1 Topsoil 133

7.8.2 Selection of plant species 133

7.8.3 Amendments 135 Mulching 135 Organic amendments 136 Biosolids 136 Microbial biomass 136

7.9 Carbon dioxide offset from mine soils 137

7.10 Carbon accretion in revegetated mine soils 138

7.11 Carbon sequestration in mine soil: The prospects for coal producers 144

7.12 Carbon sequestration activities in India 145

7.13 The carbon budget for reclaimed mine ecosystems 146

7.14 Implications for management 148

References 149

Index 181

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Author Information

Nimisha Tripathi is anAustralian Endeavour Fellow, working as a visiting academic at the University of Greenwich, UK. Her broad area of research includes restoration, microbial ecology of damaged terrestrial ecosystems and waste utilisation. She has worked as a Project Leader on the rejuvenation of contaminated mine wastelands and has carried out pioneering work in Australia on modified chitosan for soil remediation and carbon sequestration. Having good publishing records, she has won a number of national and international awards.


Raj S. Singh is Principal Scientist and Associate Professor at CSIR-Central Institute of Mining and Fuel Research, Dhanbad, India. He specializes in restoration ecology and has extensive research experience on restoration of alternate land uses and damaged ecosystems, remediation of contaminated wastelands, environmental impact assessment and management plans. His publication record is extensive and has given him international and national recognition, and awards - including the Commonwealth Fellowship, UK.


Colin D. Hills is Professor of Environment and Materials Engineering and the Director, Centre for Contaminated Land Remediation at the University of Greenwich, UK. He has an extensive research and publishing record on the treatment and valorisation of hazardous wastes and contaminated soils and has authored national guidance on stabilisation/solidification technology for the Environment Agency. His work has attracted international recognition, has won a number of national and regional awards and led to innovative treatments for the management of difficult wastes.

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