About 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Darwin and 14 km (9 mi) northeast of the town of Batchelor lies Woodcutters, an open-cut lead and zinc mine that shut in 1999. Here, at the top end of Australia, live the Kungarakay and the Warai peoples.
Not many Aboriginal people were employed at Woodcutters, nor were they involved in the rehabilitation and closure plan. At the end of operations, the company left 700 hectares (1,730 acres) of denuded land.
In Australia, the mining industry has had an essential role in the country’s economy for the past few decades. But as the mining boom dwindles, more plants are shutting down, leaving behind environmental disasters and social legacies.
Australia is home to an estimated 60,000 abandoned mines. Many of these are small, and some date back to the gold rushes of the 1800s. But abandonment is not limited to distant history, and new mine sites are shut and abandoned every year.
Data on the disturbance footprint of mining in Australia is patchy and incomplete. But the numbers available are enormous. A 2019 report asserts that the disturbance footprint from mining in the state of Western Australia alone is 138,203 hectares (341,500 acres), with only 39,674 ha (98,000 acres) under rehabilitation.
For the rest of this article: https://news.mongabay.com/2020/08/with-its-mining-boom-past-australia-deals-with-the-job-of-cleaning-up/