The need for separate SER standards for the ecological restoration of mine sites

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George D. Gann, Renee Young, Bethanie Walder, Junguo Liu, Wenhui Cui, and Kingsley Dixon

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In 2019, SER published the second edition of the International Principles and Standards for the Practice of Ecological Restoration (International Standards), which are utilized to design, implement, monitor, and evaluate ecological restoration projects at all scales and in all ecosystem types worldwide. However, mines and mining landscapes present unique challenges. Hence, there is a need for a stand alone document for the ecological restoration of mine sites that draws from the guiding principles of the International Standards. The Mining Standards focus on those topics pertinent to restoration in mined landscapes and present both established and emerging knowledge from scientific research and on the ground practices in the mining industry. Specific challenges faced by the mining industry include high levels of regulation, and the destructive nature of mining including the complete removal or homogenization of the upper geological layers and topsoil materials, the loss of biological and ecological function, and the destruction of plants, animals, and soil microbiota during the mining process. In addition, mining companies face increasing pressures to maintain a social license to operate, which includes contributing to global sustainability and biodiversity conservation goals, and tightening timelines to address projected mine closures. Because of changed conditions caused by the destructive nature of mining, full recovery of the pre-mining native ecosystem may not always be achievable. Nevertheless, the Mining Standards encourage aspirations to achieve the highest practicable ecological outcomes. Finally, integration of the Mining Standards with existing company Environmental Management Plans is key to successful uptake by the mining industry.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program