International Experience of Post-mining Remediation

1. Introduction

The mining industry is one of the old and most great human activities in the world. Many essential household items we use are made possible by mining. However, mining has impacted biodiversity and land conditions. This chapter examines the international post-mining remediation experience by focusing on some of the good practices in such countries as Tajikistan, European countries, Japan, and the USA. The following discussion also covers remediation policy problems.

2. International experience and praa choices of the mining remediation policy

The modern policy and academic debate about mining have increasingly focused on the physical impacts of mining on the environment or society.

The main idea is to minimize negative impacts through various options, including land remediation. The United States, Japan, and European Union already have national policies to clean up and restore the mining sites. These countries also contribute their technologies to resource-rich developing countries. For example, the Japanese International Cooperation Agencies (JICA) have promoted win-win relationships in mining development between developing countries and foreign investors.

It created four pillars for supporting mining in Mongolia. Their project was based on a data collection survey on the Industrial development of copper resources in 2014. In another case of the JICA cooperation in Serbia on the Bor Mine area, for more than 100 years, this mining site damaged the tailing and mine wastewater, which has also impacted the downstream basin. The project outline covers the old mine environmental issues and focuses on the implementation the remote sensing technologies to research polluted areas and used the technical method as a tool to recover this area.

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2.1. Japan Historically, Japan has place problems with mining pollution regardless of the mining stage. There was huge damage to the health of people in general and to the local communities in particular. But, establishing and improving the national legislation, which focuses on the prevention of mining pollution and avoids impact on the population health, also increase the impact on the environment. There come several documents regarding mining activities. The Japanese mining legislation framework is based on the Mining Law (1950, the first law related to mining in Japan was enacted in 1873), Mine Safety Law (1949), Law Concerning Special Measures against Pollution from Metal Mining (named Special Law, 1973). The control of mining issues under the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI). Mining Law mentioned Article 62 about procedures for the mining holders. There are requirements that the mining companies should submit and get approved for the Mining plan. At the same time, the Mine Safety Inspection Department requires the mining companies to submit a “Mine Safety Plan under Streamlining” and a “Mine Closure Plan” according to the stage of streamlining and mine closure. Also, the Mine Safety Law has procedures to prevent help the subsoil users order the special facility for preventing mine pollution and any negative impact on the environment. By period more than five years after the expiration of their mining rights. But not only the legislative framework in the mining sector helps to improve the remediation issues. The legislation was connected to the voluntary approach, as a social liability. The main idea of this practice is the suggestion to the mining companies to grant mining-related projects and create new employment opportunities after mine closure. There are many examples of this voluntary approach, but one of the most interesting and successful is the development of a tourist industry by using the space of the mining area. Japanese experience in developing the former mine areas provides some interesting examples. One of the famous former mine sites called Toi Gold Mine in the Izu Peninsula was turned into a mining theme park for tourism. The Mine was the second most productive gold mine in Japan during the Edo Period, producing approximately 40 tons of gold and 400 tons of silver. It closed its operation in 1965. Today the Toi mine provides several attractions. Its museum exhibits dioramas and artifacts about its operation and gold mining in general. There is the world’s largest gold bar, weighing 250 kilograms. Tourists can also walk through a 400-meter-long restored mining tunnel, in which animatronic miners with motion sensors replicate mining activities during the Edo period. There are signs with simple English explanations that provide information about the history of the mine, working conditions, tools, and techniques used. I visited this place and found that old mining sites can create social-economic benefits. Former mining sites also possibly educate the new generations about the history of mining.

2.2 The Case in the USA Today Minnesota is the largest producer of iron ore and taconite in the United States. Minnesota currently has seven operating taconite plants which make the pellets. The Minnesota Mainland Reclamation Act (1969) authorized the commissioner[clarify] to adopt rules for reclaiming disturbed lands due to mining. The Act provides regulatory authority for reclamation of areas subject to mining, such as open pits, waste rock, surface material stockpiles, tailings basins, buildings and equipment, and infrastructure no longer needed for any other use[clarify]. It also requires revegetation of disturbed ground and mitigation of impacted wetlands. In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administers laws and guidelines to protect the environment and natural resources. The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) or Superfund program, which is administered by the EPA seeks to locate, investigate, and clean up the worst hazardous waste sites throughout the United States. In some cases, local governments may be ordered to clean up contaminated sites (e.g., a municipal landfill), or transport hazardous substances to a safe site. The EPA developed policies that address or limit some aspects of the municipality’s CERCLA liability. Local governments may also be reimbursed for responses to emergencies involving hazardous substances and oil. In addition, EPA has recently introduced Superfund clean-up programs, in which how local governments can reuse less-contaminated sites called brownfields. Brownfields are abandoned industrial and commercial sites. Brownfields are a valuable community resource because redevelopment can bring important economic benefits to neighboring communities. The United States specifies the problem of mining remediation and create the Department of the Interior and the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement’s mission is to protect America’s natural resources and heritage. The Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (Public Law 95-87) covers the types of reclamation by-products and remediation of abandoned mining areas. For example, the only outline of the 4th title about abandoned mine reclamation covers more than 10 sections. There are includes requirements about fees, the main objective of the fund, the state reclamation program, reclamation of rural lands, acquisition and reclamation of land adversely affected by past coal mining practices, certification issues, and remaining incentives, and others. One good practice by a private company called Landmark Environmental, LLC (Landmark). in Bloomington, Minnesota, showed what the private sector can do here. Landmark Provides environmental consulting services, including conducting investigations, developing and designing remediation plans, managing and overseeing the implementation of remediation plans, and providing project management and regulatory assistance. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Principles for Greener Cleanups outlines the Agency’s policy for evaluating and minimizing the environmental “footprint” of activities undertaken when cleaning up a contaminated site. Use of the best management practices (BMPs) recommended in EPA’s series of green remediation fact sheets can help project managers and other stakeholders apply the principles on a routine basis, while maintaining the cleanup objectives, ensuring the protectiveness of a remedy, and improving its environmental outcome. Based on the United States experience and policy framework, comes the overview as the basic power tools in the mining remediation is a strong and strict policy-making practice with specifying for each type of mining and detailly guidelines for mining stakeholders. Where not only the Government body, but also the research institutes, and private and commercial sectors. Also, there have a place and sense that remediation/reclamation projects and works have a place to be provided by other 3rd parties, which is also good practice, when a special company or organization can be involved in this difficult process, such as Landmark Environmental, LLC.

2.3. Poland After applying for membership to the European Union in 1994 the first task for Poland was to harmonize the environmental legislative framework. As a result of political transformations, most legal regulations were reformed and adapted to the market economy as same with the Kyrgyz Republic after Soviet Union Collapse. The Poland remediation policy is regulated by the two main Polish legal acts the Environmental Protection Act (EPA, 2001) and the Act on the Prevention and Remedying of Environmental Damage (The Damage Act, 2007). Here some specify regarding legislation framework functions is that the Environmental Protection Act has only applied to the soil and ground contamination, which occurred before 30 April 2007 to the historical contamination of the land surface. Another legal act, the Prevention, and Remedying of Environmental Damage have only applied to the soil and ground contamination, which occurred after 30 April 2007 to the environmental damage to the land surface. In the national legislation focusing on remediation policy of the Polish comes a long definition of “remediation” as the implementation of measures to soil, ground, and groundwater to remove or reduce the quantities of hazardous substances, control them or contain them to ensure that the contaminated site ceases to pose a threat for human health or the condition of the environment, taking into account its current use or, if possible, its planned use in the future; remediation may consist in self-cleaning (natural attenuation) if this brings the greatest benefits for the environment. According to the legislative framework, the main document, which should be prepared regarding the Polish remediation policy is the Remediation Plan. The remediation plan needs to include extensive information as properties of soil and the type of land cover, including vegetation and buildings, the names of hazardous substances, the results of tests of the contamination, and the contents of hazardous substances in soil and ground to be reached, an assessment of the occurrence of a significant risk for human health or the condition of the environment, the manner of the remediation, the date of start and end of the remediation, the manner of confirming the remediation and other. The main body for making decisions and giving a permit to start activities at mining sites is the Regional Director for Environmental Protection (RDEP)

3. The authority competent to issue a permit (the Starost, the Voivodship Marshal) notifies the Regional Director for Environmental Protection. The decision of the RDEP may free the obliged party from the obligation of remediation. One example of post-mining remediation practice has been placed in the sulfur mining industry of the Polish. There are two sulfur deposits which call the Piaseczno and Machów. Mainly there are have been exploitation by strip mining. This was a reason for the devastation of soil in this area, overlay dumping grounds, under ore processing structures, and industrial infrastructure structures. The damaged area of the Piaseczno mine was about 160 ha of area and depth of up to 42 m as well as an overlay dumping ground of about 120 ha of area. While in the Machów mine was about 560 ha of area and depth of up to 110 m. Usually, after the strip mining works are provided remediation activities are much more difficult, and mostly, returning the lands to previous conditions is impossible. The way of solving this remediation challenge was the complex remediation programs and development of the lands of forest-meadow water character. In the final goal, the lands of these sulfur mines, come as forest, water, recreation zones, and meadow areas. After reviewing the Poland mining policy and activities may be concluded that becoming the part of European Union was a first step in changing the current environmental policy for a new sustainable and national-orientated policy. Other points are the strict following laws, guidelines, and the legislative framework. The Government’s active position and strong view of the safe environment, and national health protection brings today Poland benefits as constant and sustainable mining activities and economical increase. Also, the main role that integration into the EU family has duties and high responsibilities to create stability in the country and environmental protection.

4. Summary Finalized this Chapter which briefly explained the different countries’ keys as Japan, Minnesota State of the United States, and Poland part of the EU. Three different countries and locations show us that basic mining policy relies on clear, well-defining, detailed guidelines and laws, which cover all parts of the mining activities. The remediation policy and guidelines should help to improve and solve the damage and impact on the environment as much as possible. And as result have a place opportunity to use and re-use the post-mining sites for different purposes. From the mining of historical museums to the recreation public zones, and agricultural and commercial issues. The main focus is people’s health and environmental protection. Nowadays, it is so important to solve and create the land for future proposes, through remediation.

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International Experience of Post-mining Remediation. (2022, Jul 25). Retrieved from

International Experience of Post-mining Remediation
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