Life post-closure: Perception and use of rehabilitated mine sites by local communities

K. Svobodova

The social dimensions of resource extraction have always presented a major challenge for industries. This is particularly acute towards the end of the project lifecycle when multiple pressures align. Planning for successful mine closure is a key driver in the mine design, planning and the sequencing process. This enables the mine to be progressively rehabilitated towards a well-understood and acceptable final landform and land-use outcome. Although a significant need to better understand the social aspects of mine closure has been recognised across the industry, there is a lack of case studies that cover the long-term post-closure outcomes. Without case study material, it will not be possible to develop realistic guidance for closure practitioners considering social and community aspects. The guidance is particularly important in densely-populated regions where open pit mines frequently overlap with sensitive ecosystems and with intangible cultural values. The study investigated how people living in close proximity to open pit mines and mine rehabilitation sites perceive their neighbouring landscapes and how they use the post-mining land in their everyday lives. A total of 40 residents from two communities in a lignite-mining region in the Czech Republic were interviewed. While one community is living adjacent to a closed mine site, the other is next to an operating mine with closure planned in 20 years. The relationship between communities and the post-mining and mining sites, as well as to the mining company operating in the area were investigated. Participants identified places that they use in their everyday activities and places with various cultural and natural values and meanings. The results show that most respondents use post-closure landscapes in their leisure time activities and appreciate their high aesthetic, recreational and natural values. Place attachment, feelings of belonging, experience of positive results of mine rehabilitation, and economic benefits played a key role in the communities’ perception. The study introduced a spatially-explicit qualitative approach that can assist in maximising the beneficial use of post-mining land, in particular to evaluate the restoration success of post-mining sites.

Svobodova, K. (2019). Life post-closure: perception and use of rehabilitated mine sites by local communities. In A. B. Fourie & M. Tibbett (Eds.), Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Mine Closure, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth (pp. 333-344).

Conference paper
Czech Republic
Life post-closure: Perception and use of rehabilitated mine sites by local communities