Cleaning up Australia’s 80,000 disused mines is a huge job – but the payoffs can outweigh the costs – by Mohan Yellishetty and Peter Marcus Bach (The Conversation – October 22, 2023)

Newly announced closures of Glencore’s copper and zinc mines in Mt Isa will add to a huge number of former mines in Australia. A 2020 study by Monash University’s Resources Trinity Group found more than 80,000 inactive mine sites across the country.

Globally, a 2023 study estimates the mining footprint at around 66,000 square kilometres. Abandoned mines account for much of this area. It’s estimated the US has about 500,000 abandoned mines and Canada at least 10,000. The UK and China have at least 1,500 and 12,000 old coalmines, respectively.

Abandoned mines can pose extreme environmental, health and safety risks. Unreclaimed coalmines, for example, continue to emit greenhouse gases.

Land is a scarce resource. Restoration enables sustainable and dynamic use of former mining land. It opens up golden opportunities – environmental, social and economi

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