Mining in polar opposites – case studies from opposite ends of the earth

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Tove Hägglund and Renee Young

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The International Standards for Mine Site Restoration (the Mining Standards) aims to provide a unifying set of principles and standards for all mine site restoration projects across the globe. This is no easy undertaking, as they must be applicable to all climates and geographies, environmental conditions, extraction commodities, political and social settings. The Kiruna mine located in Norrbotten, Sweden and the Karara mine in the Mid-west, Australia are at polar opposites when it comes to the ecological restoration post-extraction. Kiruna, is an underground iron ore mine with associated infrastructure located 145 km north of the Arctic Circle. Kiruna has a subarctic climate with short, cool summers and long, cold snow-covered winters. Karara, is a large open-cut iron ore mine and represents one of the largest iron ore reserves in Australia. Karara experiences a hot, arid climate with low and erratic rainfall. Temperatures can reach above 50 C on restoration sites. Despite these climatic extremes, they also share many similarities. Both sites are need to work closely with the Traditional Owners, have a long history of developing knowledge through research and are undertaking restoration that aims to restore the native ecosystem that is informed by the reference. We show how each site is working with the eight principles of the Mining Standards to deliver ecological restoration that is the best that can be achieved, given the major challenged faced by the mining industry.

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Conference Presentation

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