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Environmental Risks Associated with Beneficial End Uses of Mine Lakes in Southwestern Australia

Doupé, R.G. and Lymbery, A.J.ORCID: 0000-0002-0542-3446 (2005) Environmental Risks Associated with Beneficial End Uses of Mine Lakes in Southwestern Australia. Mine Water and the Environment, 24 (3). pp. 134-138.

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Lakes develop when pits from open cut mines are left to fill with groundwater. In recent years, mining companies, mining communities, and regulatory agencies have begun to consider potential beneficial end uses for mine lakes. Beneficial end uses are unlikely to be without environmental impacts, however, and a proper consideration of the total benefit to the community should consider them. This paper briefly reviews potential beneficial end uses and possible environmental impacts that might arise with them for mine lakes in the Collie Basin, a coal mining region in Western Australia. We identified eight distinct, but not necessarily incompatible, end uses from a search of the literature on mine lakes throughout the world: recreation and tourism, wildlife conservation, aquaculture, irrigation, livestock water, potable water, industrial water, and chemical extraction. Recreation, conservation, and possibly aquaculture use the mine lake directly, whereas the other end uses utilise extracted water. All end uses have the potential to have environmental effects, with the most common being an actual or perceived impact on human health and safety. A semi-quantitative risk assessment, using published literature sources, identified wildlife conservation as the end use with the least environmental risk, and irrigation as the end use with the greatest environmental risk. Such risks need to be balanced against economic and social benefits. There is an urgent need for a regulatory framework to address mine lake options.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Freshwater Fish Group & Fish Health Unit
Publisher: Springer Verlag
Copyright: © IMWA Springer-Verlag 2005
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