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Surface Coal Mines--Restoration and Rehabilitation

AUTHOR: Lindsey J. Jackson
DATE: January 1991

This report covers the environmental effects of mining coal by surface methods. A surface mining operation creates dust, noise and a scar on the landscape, possibly for several decades. However, it represents a temporary land use and can create unique opportunities for land development. The enactment of stringent laws requiring the land to be returned to its original condition or better, together with research into the necessary techniques, has meant that restoration of the land surface and rehabilitation of the soil materials have now become normal parts of the planning, approval and operation of surface mines. This is especially true in OECD countries where land is at a premium and where public concern over the environmental aspects of land use is strong. Mining companies are gaining in expertise and many examples of good quality restored land may be found.

This report describes the legislation governing surface mine restoration and rehabilitation and the necessary pre-mining site characterisation from which a reclamation plan can be drawn up.

Also considered in the report are:

  • soil reconstruction and revegetation techniques--which aim to achieve plant growth on the restored land at levels equal to or better than before mining;
  • rehabilitation of derelict land at mine sites;
  • creation of wildlife habitats;
  • practices which contribute to successful restoration and rehabilitation of surface mined land.