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Mineral extraction: landscape planning and environmental impact design (EID)

Minerals Policy

  1. Permission for new quarrying  projects should only be given when a restoration and after-use plan has been prepared and agreed with the planning authorities..
  2. After-use plans should provide for a range of possible activities, since land uses  20-50 years into the future cannot be predicted.
  3. Finance for land restoration should come from the mineral-working operation.
  4. Worked-out and restored mineral land should pass into public ownership.

Landscape planning for mineral  extraction Old mines can have new uses.

For centuries it has been known that mining produces a range of harmful side-effects - and that they can be ameliorated. The first European textbook on mines and quarries, written by Georgius Agricola in 1550, considered the case against mineral extraction and concluded:

The strongest argument of the detractors is that the fields are devastated by mining operations, for which reason formerly Italians were warned by law that no one should dig the earth for metals and so injure their very fertile fields, their vineyards, and their olive groves... And when the woods and groves are felled, then are exterminated the beasts and birds, very many of which furnish a pleasant and agreeable food for man. Further, when the ores are washed, the water which has been used poisons the brooks and streams, and either destroys the fish or drives them away... Thus it is said, it is clear to all that there is greater detriment from mining than the value of the metals which the mining produces (Agricola 1912 edn.).

Whilst mining continues, the environmental side-effects are wholly undesirable. But when working has ceased, beneficial side effects arise. Agricola knew this:

Moreover, as the miners dig almost exclusively in mountains otherwise unproductive, and in valleys invested in gloom, they do either slight damage to the fields or none at all. Lastly, where woods and glades are cut down, they may be sown with grain after they have been cleared from the roots of shrubs and trees. These new fields soon produce rich crops, so that they repair the losses which the inhabitants suffer from increased cost of timber (Agricola 1912 edn. 14).

There are three crucial points:

  1. Mineral operations cause great environmental harm.
  2. When finished, mining can leave land in a pitiful condition.
  3. Mining can create valuable new land characteristics.

To save Europe and America's mineral industries from extinction, operators must learn:

  1.  to minimise environmental harm while working proceeds
  2.  to create post-quarrying landscapes which are self-evidently as good as the pre-quarrying landscapes
  3.  to achieve these goals by imaginative planning and design, rather than exorbitant expenditure

It can be done. It must be done. It will be done, someday.

Future practice key in reclamation is figuring the eventual landscape and reuse plan before excavation is begun (Whyte 1970). 

Mineral planning The alternatives are Similarity, Identity and Difference.

The economics of after-use

 

Refs

Down, C.G. & Stocks, J. 1977. Environmental Impact of Mining. London:Applied Science Publishers.

Haywood, S.H. 1974. Quarries and the landscape. London:British Quarrying and Slag Federation.

Jellicoe, G.A. 1979. Blue Circle Cement, Hope Works, Derbyshire. A progress report on a landscape plan 1943-93. London:Blue Circle Cement.

Turner, T, Landscape planning and environmental impact design. London:UCL Press 1998 Chapter 6

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Write a Comment »
  • Quarrying brings immense changes
    to the landscape. If the after-use is
    considered before and during the
    mineral operations these changes
    can be beneficial. If side-effects
    and after-uses are neglected then
    quarrying is likely to cause immense harm.