Boosting mine rehabilitation outcomes

BETTER environmental management during mine rehabilitation and closure has been the focus of a week-long course for environmental science students from the University of Western Australia and mineral engineering students from Canada’s University of Toronto.
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The UWA and University of Toronto students on the field trip.

The 30 undergraduate students travelled to five active and closed mine sites across southwest Western Australia as part of an international partnership between the two universities.

The sites included end pit lakes at Collie; Newmont Goldcorp's Boddington gold mine, processing plant and tailings storage facility; Talison Lithium's Greenbushes lithium mine and processing plant; and a bauxite mine and residue storage facility.

The field trip was coordinated by UWA Environmental Stewardship in Mining Initiative director Dr Talitha Santini and University of Toronto Lassonde Institute of Mining director Professor Lesley Warren.

Santini said the field trip was an outstanding opportunity for students to see the challenges involved in mine site rehabilitation and closure.

"It has helped them understand the long-term value and benefits for the environment, regional economies and communities, as well as gain hands-on experience in dealing with these challenges," she said.

"This is the first step in developing a strong partnership in mining research and education between our two universities, each of which is a global leader in this field."

Warren said mining was global but the challenges were local.

"Having students begin to appreciate the full breadth of the challenges as well as the innovative and best practices emerging around the world increases their competencies and develops a globalised community of talent for this vital Australian and Canadian sector," he said.

UWA Environmental Science student Gabriella Gray said the field trip let students see the mine sites and realise the large scale of their operations.