Ecological Restoration of Novel Lake Districts: New Approaches for New Landscapes

Abstract

Mine void pit lakes often contain water of poor quality with potential for environmental harm that may dwarf other mine closure environmental issues in terms of severity, scope, and longevity. This is particularly so when many pit lakes occur close together and thus form a new “lake district” landscape. Pit lakes that can be developed into healthy lake or wetland ecosystems as a beneficial end use provide opportunities for the mining industry to fulfil commitments to sustainability. Clearly articulated restoration goals and a strategic closure plan are necessary to ensure pit lake restoration toward a new, yet regionally-relevant, aquatic ecosystem, which can achieve sustainability as an out-of-kind environmental offset. Such an approach must also consider obstacles to development of a self-sustaining aquatic ecosystem, such as water quality and ecological requirements. We recommend integration of pit lakes into their catchments as a landscape restoration planning exercise with clearly-identified roles and objectives for each new lake habitat and its surrounds.

Resumen

Además de los bien documentados efectos de polución acuática, las operaciones mineras tienen un gran efecto sobre las corrientes hidrológicas y el régimen de flujos en las áreas hidrológicamente conectadas, aguas abajo. Este trabajo documenta los cambios a largo plazo (1923–2008) que ocurrieron en las áreas superficiales de drenaje y los flujos de dos ríos pequeños o medianos (100–1,000 km2) drenando a través del campo Ordovician de petróleo de origen bituminoso del noreste de Estonia. Se relevó el impacto de la expansión de la actividad minera en el área desde mediados hasta finales del siglo 20, a través del análisis conjunto de los regímenes de flujo y de los datos mineros (velocidades de descarga y lugares con actividad minera). Durante las fases de la minería intensiva, el flujo en invierno y verano es entre 53–72% mayor que el promedio en el área Purtse y entre 66–92%% mayor en el área más pequeña de Pühajõgi donde la influencia volumétrica de las descargas mineras es mayor. La contribución de aguas subterráneas bombeadas a la superficie controla los mayores incrementos en el flujo medio anual. Aunque el impacto hidrológico más común que provocan las operaciones mineras sea el incremento del flujo, también pueden observarse fases de sequías en aquellos cursos de agua desfavorecidos por la transferencia de los desagües hacia otros cursos reduciendo el área hidrológica efectiva. Se analizan también las implicancias en el cambio del régimen de flujo sobre la calidad del río y las opciones para su control.

摘要

露天开采遗留的采坑积水湖水质往往较差,由此引起的潜在环境危害常常使闭坑矿井的环境问题危害程度加重、影响范围扩大、作用时间延长。当许多采坑积水湖距离较近而连成“采坑积水湖区”时,采坑积水湖不良水质的环境效应将更加明显。采坑积水湖可以最终修复为健康的湖泊或湿地生态系统;该修复目标也为采矿企业履行其矿区可持续开发承诺提供了机会。明确的湖区修复目标和周密的矿井闭坑方案至关重要,它们有助于将采坑积水湖发展为一个新的、基于区域背景的水生生态系统,以非本源的环境补偿形式实现矿区环境可持续发展。同时,在建立相对独立的“新湖区”水生生态系统时,必须考虑水生生态系统对水质与生态条件的要求与困难。我们建议将采坑积水湖区修复融入整个流域景观治理计划当中,明确规划每个新湖泊生境的环境作用与修复目标。

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Acknowledgments

Thanks to Will Stock and Mark Lund (Centre for Ecosystem Management, Edith Cowan University), Mark Tibbett (Centre for Land Rehabilitation, University of Western Australia), and Steven Dickinson (Golder Associates) for fruitful discussions that helped the authors develop these ideas.

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Correspondence to Clint D. McCullough.

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McCullough, C.D., van Etten, E.J.B. Ecological Restoration of Novel Lake Districts: New Approaches for New Landscapes. Mine Water Environ 30, 312–319 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10230-011-0161-5

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Keywords

  • Australia
  • Germany
  • Mining
  • Pit lake
  • Rehabilitation
  • Restoration