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Developing completion criteria for rehabilitation of alluvial mined areas in dry tropical savannas

Sherriff, M., Ladd, P.ORCID: 0000-0002-7730-9685, Bell, R.W.ORCID: 0000-0002-7756-3755, Samaraweera, M.K.S.A. and Mattiske, L. (2002) Developing completion criteria for rehabilitation of alluvial mined areas in dry tropical savannas. In: Proceedings of the 2002 Workshop of the Goldfield Land Rehabilitation Conference, 29 - 31 May, Kalgoorlie, WA, Australia.

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Success on mine rehabilitation areas can be assessed on the basis of completion criteria. Argyle Diamond Mine (ADM) processes alluvial deposits along Limestone and Smoke Creeks in the Kimberley region and has mined over 1000 hectares of land that is in the process of being revegetated. ADM requires completion criteria to be formulated for mined terrace areas at their alluvial minesite. Few studies worldwide have addressed the issue of practical completion criteria for mined lands in dry tropical savannas, which are characterised by highly variable and strongly season rainfall, frequent fires and a mosaic of herbaceous and woody plant communities. This paper examines the plant ecological aspects of the alluvial mine rehabilitation process at ADM, and rehabilitation progress in relation to objectives. The characteristics of the tropical savanna system are compared with those of the southwest of Western Australia where rehabilitation of mine sites has a longer research record than in the far north. In both systems, understanding the biology of species and the impact of fire is critically important However, there are also important differences related to the environment and the species and communities that occur in the respective locations. The vegetation on the terraces beside the creeks (Plains vegetation) was suitable as a reference community on which to base completion criteria for assessing the success of the alluvial mining rehabilitation areas. It appears unrealistic in the short-term, to expect rehabilitated communities to be closely similar to what existed before mining. However, reinstated plant communities should contain dominant local species that are functionally similar to those that were present before mining. During the development of completion criteria for the dry tropics it is necessary to take into account the patchy structure of the natural vegetation and the highly variable climatic conditions.

Item Type: Conference Item
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Environmental Science
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