Mining and the environment: the biggest conservation projects in mining – by JP Casey ( – October 29, 2018)

As the mining industry becomes more aware of the environmental damage large-scale extractive operations can cause, many are taking steps to reduce the harmfulness of their operations.

Often, this takes the form of extensive land rehabilitation projects, where companies set out long-term plans to redevelop land after a mine has been exhausted; however, many companies have adopted a more specific approach, engaging in operations to protect individual species of wildlife native to the lands where they mine. Here are five of the biggest conservation projects in mining.

Appalachian Wildlife Center, Kentucky, US

In July this year, biologist David Ledford announced the formation of the Appalachian Wildlife Center, a non-profit organisation that aims to construct a conservation area on former mining land in the US state of Kentucky. The area will cover 12,500 acres, a third of which will consist of plains and grassland built on former mine sites.

The reclaimed lands will be home to species such as the Rocky Mountain elk, which number 11,000 in Kentucky, but which have lost habitats to mining operations and are a frequent target for hunters. In 2016, close to 600 elk were hunted in the state, an increase of almost 400 over the last decade.

The region will also host over 240 species of birds year-round, and Ledford plans to open up parts of the reserve to university researchers to test other rehabilitation options, such as the construction of orchards.

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