Rehabit Australia has been established to find solutions to one of the nation’s major environmental problems – a problem that has significant cost implications for governments and some of the largest organisations.
There are more than 50,000 abandoned mines across Australia. Many of these have unstable shafts and infrastructure that pose a risk to public safety, or waste that is polluting surrounding land and the water table. Some have scarred the landscape, destroying productive agricultural land. Future generations will be faced with a colossal clean-up bill if we do not start to remediate them now.
This has been recognised already by state governments and the mining industry. The New South Wales Government has established a Derelict Mines Program to assist with the rehabilitation of abandoned mines, and other states are taking similar initiatives. The Ministerial Council on Mineral and Petroleum Resources (MCMPR) and the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) have published a 40-page paper highlighting the problem and promoting a strategic approach to minimise risk, manage abandoned mine sites efficiently and sustainably, and recognise the sites’ value.
The challenge, as mentioned in the MCMPR and MCA report, is ‘to implement effective rehabilitation with limited resources’. While state governments hold rehabilitation funds, these will cover only a fraction of the cost of rehabilitating abandoned mines in their jurisdictions. Companies have under-provided for remediation and in some cases walked away from their obligations.
This is the challenge Rehabit Australia intends to tackle. A multi-disciplinary team has been assembled to develop innovative, economically viable solutions to rehabilitate individual mines.
While many of the abandoned mines are in remote regions, others are close to towns or farms where they occupy land that could be used for housing, recreation or agricultural production. Rehabilitation could result in tangible benefits which Rehabit Australia will unlock.
Rehabilitation of other abandoned mines, for example alongside national parks, could result in intangible benefits such as extension of the park, the development of recreational facilities, or the creation of historic sites with educational value. In these cases, Rehabit Australia intends to work closely with governments and not-for-profit organisations to remediate the site and restore the landscape.
Developing solutions for abandoned mines with different issues and in different locations will require a focused approach involving government, local communities, land-owners, developers, environmental engineers, lawyers and financiers. Through harnessing the skills and resources of these groups, Rehabit Australia intends to devise and activate plans that will extract value from abandoned mines. Its first project is expected to be in New South Wales’ Hunter Valley where members of the team have experience of coal mining. From there, the team plans to make its experience available across Australia.
Rehabit has a unique network of knowledge and experience in mining and environmental activities.
The core of Rehabit’s team is made up of people who are miners and executives with extensive experience in mine design, construction and operation of both underground and opencut mines. The team’s expertise includes conducting environmental and rehabilitation works.
An advisory Board comprising high profile industry and government individuals is in place to enrich knowledge and to enhance governance.
Rehabit has compiled a group of premium supporting consultants who will enable comprehensive delivery of services. These are major firms in the areas of engineering, legal, corporate finance and public relations.
Utilising Rehabit’s expertise, Rehabit intends to reverse-engineer the impact of mining and develop innovative and economically viable solutions to rehabilitate individual mines.
Structural decline in the mining sector has heightened the risk of:
- rehabilitation programs being deferred or
- corporate failure resulting in an increase in abandoned mines with minimal rehabilitation.
Engage with government, land owners, private enterprise to:
- Provide solutions
- Deliver works
- Install tangible solutions for subsequent land use
Rehabit is positioned to capture value created from rehabilitation works through its flexible capacity for capitalisation options.
Rehabit engages with government, land owners, private enterprise to, provide solutions, deliver works, and install tangible solutions for subsequent land use.
Cost of closing 50,000 abandoned mines in Australia will burden taxpayers, warns expert
A mine employee shows a piece of copper ore at the Kilembe mines, in the foothills of the Rwenzori Mountains, 497km (309 miles) west of Uganda’s capital Kampala, January 31, 2013. The Kilembe copper-cobalt mine operated from 1956 to 1972, when it closed due to a drop in world copper prices and now lay in ruins. Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has promised to rehabilitate the Kilembe mines. Reuters/James Akena.
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