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Importance of Mine Reclamation to the Environment

Once surface mining operations have ceased, reclamation is carried out to restore the environment for post-mining land use (PMLU). This mitigates the destructive effects caused by mining and ensures the ecosystem is returned to a sustainable state.

Reclamation involves four key stages: contouring of land, topsoil replacement, revegetating the land with plant species and trees, and monitoring the progress over a period of years.

The first stage follows the practice of approximate original contour (AOC). As defined by The Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, this is the process of backfilling and grading the mined area so that the surface configuration closely resembles its original state.

Revegetating the soil is also crucial to ensure the land is sustainable and has beneficial use for the future. Some of the most typical post-mining land use purposes are agriculture, forestry, and biodiversity.

Key fact: Since 1978, more than 2.8 million acres of mined lands have been restored for wildlife areas and other beneficial uses

Benefits

  • Restores the land’s surrounding ecosystem

  • Provides aesthetic and commercial value

  • Improves air and water quality

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