Mining rehabilitation is one of the key factors in mining land re-use after mining has taken place. Mining leads to serious environmental and social impacts and after-mine rehabilitation must take place prior to land re-zoneing can take place. There are several important factors which need to be considered when mining is taking place. The main objective in this case is to ensure that land that has been mined becomes usable again and does not become a threat to people, animals, or the environment.
In most cases it can take 10 years or more for land to completely recover from mining operations. This period of time is known as mining rehabilitation. During this time vegetation may have to be removed and roads may need to be repaired. Also, nearby areas that were affected by the mine will also need to be re-zoned so that they can be used for future mining activities.
Many governments have put in place policies and laws regarding mining land re-use. These policies aim to protect the environment and provide compensation to people who have been affected by the mining operation. One example is in South Africa, where in 2021, the International Labor Organization adopted a policy on mining which encourages member states to adopt and implement mining rehabilitation strategies. This policy encourages member states to strengthen their Mine Control Management Programs. One example of a mine control management program in action in South Africa is the MMCZ program which was implemented in 2021.
Currently, the MMCZ program involves improved transport links, safer worksite conditions for all workers, better safety equipment and machinery, improved plant health and safety and a reduction in the generation of harmful waste materials. Another major aspect of mining rehabilitation in south Africa is to ensure that the communities living around the mines are not adversely affected. For this, compensation is offered and projects are given priority status to ensure that these communities benefit from the mine re-use. The integrated mine closure good practice guide for south Africa provides a detailed assessment of how each mining rehabilitation project should be planned and managed.
In the case of gold mining, the integrated mine closure good practice guide for south Africa highlights that no prior consultation with the community needs to be made. There is therefore no need for a meeting with the local peoples to discuss their viewpoint or to obtain their consent as regards the proposed mining rehabilitation work. The only information that needs to be provided to the community is from the stakeholders. This includes the mine operator, the South African government, the stakeholders and the general public. No community should be consulted except on matters that are specifically covered by the mine operations manual.
For slate mining, the integrated mine rehabilitation manual for south Africa highlights that any prior consultation with the affected people must be done by a person who is unbiased and has expertise in the area. This person should also be one from the same organization that is directly involved in the rehabilitation program. This person should take into consideration any important aspect of the community such as the impact of the mine on the environment. This includes the impact on wildlife, on the local water system, on the quality of the soil and of course on the health of the inhabitants of the surrounding areas. These factors need to be considered in the overall evaluation of the proposed mining operation as well as the monitoring and clearance activities that will be carried out in the immediate area.
The mine rehabilitation manual for south Africa advises that anyone who has been exposed to active mining operations during the period of the shutdown must be compensated. Compensation is meant to help those whose health has been affected by the emissions from the mines. Those who have lost their employments due to the closure can also seek compensation for the same. The mine rehabilitation manual for south Africa stresses on the need for clear and clean air to be pumped in order to lessen the effect of the mining operations.
The mine is not the only cause of pollution and land degradation in the surrounding areas. The mine operators also require planning, regulation and safety measures for the mining process itself and for the eventuality of land rehabilitation. As such, the mine operators must make sure that no stray materials that are not required by the mining process are left behind. This means that they must make sure that the roads, buildings and other structures do not suffer damage as a result of abandoned mining equipment. It also means that there must be warning signs posted in the mining areas so that people are aware of the harmful consequences of mining.
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