Project Title: An integrated approach for the transformation of post-mining land and infrastructure use in South Africa
Supervisors: Jennifer L. Broadhurst, Brett Cohen
The mine closure and post-mining phases are when various sustainability issues often come to light, environmental impacts, such as land degradation and acid mine drainage last for decades after operations cease. Socioeconomic impacts are exacerbated in regions where communities are dependent on mines for employment and services, amongst other things. There are several responsible mining and closure frameworks that have been developed to direct the industry on the mitigation of impacts over the life of mine. Despite the existence of these guidelines mine closure and post-mining land use planning continues to be problematic, especially in South Africa where abandoned mines have left a negative legacy. The revegetation of degraded land continues to be the focus of several postmining land use plans, without much integration with regional land use planning and little consideration of the socio-economic impacts on communities. Despite these challenges, there is a potential for alternative post-mining land uses, such as agriculture, to mitigate some of these impacts and stimulate economic growth beyond mining.
The objective of this research, therefore, is to develop a methodology which integrates mine closure planning with regional land use and socio-economic planning over the life of mine, for the transformation of post-mining land in South Africa into an economically viable land use. This will include an evaluation of current approaches to mine closure and post-mining land use planning at a site and regional level. By identifying the gaps and influencing factors in the current approaches and decision-making processes, the research intends to develop a methodology to support decision-making for post-mining land use. This methodology will be applied to two case studies: the first being a case study where agriculture is the land use alternative using fibre-producing crops due to their potential to spur economic development, and the second being a mine in the early stages of development.