Special Issue "Sustainable Use of Abandoned Mines"

A special issue of Minerals (ISSN 2075-163X). This special issue belongs to the section "Environmental Mineralogy and Biogeochemistry".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 15 July 2020.

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Melida Gutierrez
Website
Guest Editor
Geography, Geology and Planning Department, Missouri State University, Springfield, MO 65897, USA
Interests: geochemistry of sediments contaminated with mining wastes; groundwater quality; water-rock interactions; sustainability of groundwater resource; arid and semiarid areas

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Abandoned mines are a common occurrence around the world, many of them causing land to remain unused because they contain either hazardous cavities, unsightly landscapes, and/or toxic compounds. In addition, many of these mines are located in remote areas. Making land usable again where mining once occurred and converting waste into valuable products are key to an effective reclamation program. The sustainable use of land and mining-related products ensures a long-term utilization of resources. This issue welcomes work conducted toward a sustainable use of abandoned mines, including landscape and land reutilization, immobilization of mining waste, reutilization and reprocessing of mining waste, acid mine drainage treatment, prevention of groundwater contamination, chemical and biological monitoring of reclaimed land, and air and remote imaging monitoring.

Prof. Dr. Melida Gutierrez
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Minerals is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • tailings
  • rehabilitation
  • sustainability
  • mine waste
  • recycling
  • landscape reclamation
  • biomonitoring
  • waste immobilization
  • reutilization
  • phytostabilization
  • remote sensing
  • post mining management
  • AMD treatment

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Successful Ecological Regeneration of Opencast Coal Mine Spoils through Forestation: From Cradle to Grove
Minerals 2020, 10(5), 461; https://doi.org/10.3390/min10050461 - 20 May 2020
Abstract
The reclamation of surface (opencast) coal mines is not always successful; there remains a legacy of degraded land that burdens local communities. This article evaluates a community-oriented, low-cost means of geoecological regeneration, the “Cradle for Nature” strategy, which uses mosaic tree planting to [...] Read more.
The reclamation of surface (opencast) coal mines is not always successful; there remains a legacy of degraded land that burdens local communities. This article evaluates a community-oriented, low-cost means of geoecological regeneration, the “Cradle for Nature” strategy, which uses mosaic tree planting to foster positive natural ecological processes. Results show that, while the autocompaction of minestones quickly raises soil densities to levels hostile to plant growth, forestation helps moderate soil densities. Weathering concentrates metals in minestones, but 14 years of forestation reduced the loadings of five metals by 35–52%. Twenty years of forestation doubled soil organic carbon to >7%; increased bacilli from 7% to 46%; actinomycetes from 10% to 26%; and soil microbe counts 12–15 times, especially in tree plantings treated with fertiliser. Soils under trees also supported a significantly greater earthworm biomass than under grass but, while open-canopy plantings had increased ground flora biodiversity, closed-canopy plantings had lower diversity and biomass. Following closure to grazing, ground biomass increased sevenfold. Young trees act as bird perches and significantly increase seed fall. Small mammal biomass and biodiversity increases after tree planting and higher predators appear. Varteg’s constructed forest provides an effective “cradle” for an emergent geoecological system and its habitat mosaic maximises biodiversity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Use of Abandoned Mines)
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Open AccessArticle
Native Seedling Colonization on Stockpiled Mine Soils Is Constrained by Site Conditions and Competition with Exotic Species
Minerals 2020, 10(4), 361; https://doi.org/10.3390/min10040361 - 17 Apr 2020
Abstract
Sites disturbed through mining practices can be challenging to restore with native vegetation, as the path of ecological succession is often unknown and hard to predict. We conducted an establishment study that explored restoration strategies to increase native vegetation on a newly formed [...] Read more.
Sites disturbed through mining practices can be challenging to restore with native vegetation, as the path of ecological succession is often unknown and hard to predict. We conducted an establishment study that explored restoration strategies to increase native vegetation on a newly formed stockpile of soil at New Gold’s New Afton Mine in British Columbia, Canada. Establishment of native species in semi-arid grasslands is often constrained by seed and seedling microsite limitations, so treatments were imposed to assist in reducing these limitations. We established a fully factorial design with a native seed treatment (seeded and unseeded) and four soil preparations: raking, hydroseed slurry, a combination of raking and hydroseed slurry, and no preparation. Raking assisted in increasing total seedling establishment, regardless of whether the site was seeded or not. Raking and seeding increased the number of native seedlings and resulted in the greatest species richness, suggesting that native seedling establishment is primarily seed-limited, but that microclimate is also important for the establishment of some native seeds. We found that exotic species were able to capitalize on the disturbance and outcompeted the native species, but reducing seed-limitations by sowing more native seeds and increasing available microclimates by raking or tilling may increase native species’ success at the establishment phase. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Use of Abandoned Mines)
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Open AccessArticle
Metal Content of Stream Sediments as a Tool to Assess Remediation in an Area Recovering from Historic Mining Contamination
Minerals 2020, 10(3), 247; https://doi.org/10.3390/min10030247 - 08 Mar 2020
Abstract
Lead and zinc mining was booming in the early 1900s in and near Joplin, Missouri; a town within the Tri-State Mining District, USA. After the ore became depleted, mining companies moved out, leaving a profoundly disturbed land. Presently, over 90% of the land [...] Read more.
Lead and zinc mining was booming in the early 1900s in and near Joplin, Missouri; a town within the Tri-State Mining District, USA. After the ore became depleted, mining companies moved out, leaving a profoundly disturbed land. Presently, over 90% of the land has been remediated. We collected sediment samples along two creeks flowing through the historically contaminated area that have been identified as major contributors of metals to downstream reservoirs, Center Creek (14 samples) and Turkey Creek (30 samples). Sediment metal content was determined by aqua regia extraction, the potentially bioavailable fraction by 0.11 M acetic acid extraction, and toxicity by ΣPEC-QCd,Pb,Zn. Zinc and lead content in sediments were high in both creeks notwithstanding remediation actions; e.g., median concentrations of 521 mg/kg Pb and 5425 mg/kg Zn in Center Creek, corresponding to 19 and 52 times the background concentration. The metals’ distribution followed no discernible pattern downstream. The potentially bioavailable fraction varied between 0.36% (Pb, Center Creek) and 4.96% (Zn, Turkey Creek). High toxicity was found in 40% of the samples in Turkey Creek and 78.5% of the samples in Center Creek. While this level of toxicity would likely affect aquatic organisms, its limited mobility under alkaline conditions suggests a lesser threat to humans. On the other hand, this high toxicity will likely persist in sediments for at least a few decades, based on their high metal content and low mobility. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Use of Abandoned Mines)
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Open AccessArticle
Appraisal of Strategies for Dealing with the Physical Hazards of Abandoned Surface Mine Excavations: A Case Study of Frankie and Nyala Mines in South Africa
Minerals 2020, 10(2), 145; https://doi.org/10.3390/min10020145 - 07 Feb 2020
Abstract
In order to improve the safety status and the quality of the landscape affected by surface mining, it is important that practical strategies for dealing with the excavations are identified. The aim of the work presented in this paper was to carry out [...] Read more.
In order to improve the safety status and the quality of the landscape affected by surface mining, it is important that practical strategies for dealing with the excavations are identified. The aim of the work presented in this paper was to carry out an appraisal of the strategies for addressing the physical hazards of abandoned surface mine excavations in two mines in the Limpopo Province, South Africa. The method used involved carrying out field characterization of the current state and uses of the excavations, as well as their physical hazards of the surface mine excavations in the study area. The characterization took into consideration. Possible strategies for addressing the physical hazards of the excavations are identified, and their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analyzed. The Quantitative Strategic Planning Matrix (QSPM) was performed on each of the identified strategies with the purpose of determining their attractiveness based on their SWOT factors. The results of the study showed that using a combination of strategies to deal with the physical hazards of the abandoned mine excavations was the most attractive approach followed by the grading of the slopes of the excavations to improve their stability, while promoting their safe alternative uses. The no-action option and backfilling of the excavations were the least attractive strategies for dealing with the abandoned surface mine excavations. The study demonstrated how semi-quantitative tools, such as the SWOT analysis and QSPM could assist in finding practical approaches for dealing with the problems of abandoned mine sites or features. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Use of Abandoned Mines)
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Open AccessCommunication
Revealing Tropical Technosols as an Alternative for Mine Reclamation and Waste Management
Minerals 2020, 10(2), 110; https://doi.org/10.3390/min10020110 - 28 Jan 2020
Abstract
This study was based on the premise that Technosols constructed under tropical conditions are a valuable tool for inexpensive mine reclamation programs. These anthropogenic soils are still poorly studied in Brazil and are not recognized by the Brazilian Soil Classification System. Given the [...] Read more.
This study was based on the premise that Technosols constructed under tropical conditions are a valuable tool for inexpensive mine reclamation programs. These anthropogenic soils are still poorly studied in Brazil and are not recognized by the Brazilian Soil Classification System. Given the importance of mining to the Brazilian economy (the sector accounts for 20% of all products exported and 5% of the gross domestic product), there is an urgency to properly manage the large amount of waste produced. For this purpose, we suggest the use of Technosols as a strategy to overcome both land degradation and waste production by presenting a successful case of mine rehabilitation combining limestone wastes and tropical grasses. We show that Technosols constructed from the mine spoils can develop into soils suitable for agriculture in a few years, promoting land reclamation and producing food and energy. These soils are also valuable resources that can provide important ecosystem services, such as organic carbon storage. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Use of Abandoned Mines)
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Open AccessArticle
Incorporation of the Method of Ranking the Hazards of Abandoned Mine Entries into a Rule-Based Expert System
Minerals 2019, 9(10), 600; https://doi.org/10.3390/min9100600 - 30 Sep 2019
Abstract
The work of quantifying the problems of abandoned mines is the first step towards the rehabilitation of these mines. As the result, in all countries that have many abandoned mines, researchers and different organizations have been making efforts to develop decision-making tools, methods, [...] Read more.
The work of quantifying the problems of abandoned mines is the first step towards the rehabilitation of these mines. As the result, in all countries that have many abandoned mines, researchers and different organizations have been making efforts to develop decision-making tools, methods, and techniques for rehabilitation of abandoned mines. This paper describes the work conducted to incorporate the method for ranking the problems of abandoned mine entries into a rule-based expert system. This is done using the web-based expert system platform provided by expert system (ES)-Builder Shell. The ES is tested by applying it to the case study of the problems of abandoned mine entries in the areas of Giyani and Musina, Limpopo Province of South Africa. This paper gives details of the procedure followed in creating the production rules of the ES for ranking problems of abandoned mine entries (ES-RAME), its attributes, and the results of its application to the selected case study. The use of the ES-RAME is found to be important for setting the objectives and priorities of the rehabilitation of abandoned mine entries. In addition, the incorporation of the ranking method into the expert system ensured that the procedure of the tanking method is clearly communicated and preserved as the rules of the ES. The expert system also has the advantages of being consistent in its guidance, and it gives the user an opportunity to go through the ranking process of the system using any possible fictitious information; this gives the user a feel for the ranking process and the data required when using the ES-RAME. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Use of Abandoned Mines)
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Review

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Open AccessFeature PaperReview
Realizing Beneficial End Uses from Abandoned Pit Lakes
Minerals 2020, 10(2), 133; https://doi.org/10.3390/min10020133 - 02 Feb 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Pit lakes can represent significant liabilities at mine closure. However, depending upon certain characteristics of which water quality is key, pit lakes often also present opportunities to provide significant regional benefit and address residual closure risks of both their own and overall project [...] Read more.
Pit lakes can represent significant liabilities at mine closure. However, depending upon certain characteristics of which water quality is key, pit lakes often also present opportunities to provide significant regional benefit and address residual closure risks of both their own and overall project closure and even offset the environmental costs of mining by creating new end uses. These opportunities are widely dependent on water quality, slope stability, and safety issues. Unfortunately, many pit lakes have continued to be abandoned without repurposing for an end use. We reviewed published pit lake repurposing case studies of abandoned mine pit lakes. Beneficial end use type and outcome varied depending upon climate and commodity, but equally important were social and political dynamics that manifest as mining company commitments or regulatory requirements. Many end uses have been realized: passive and active recreation, nature conservation, fishery and aquaculture, drinking and industrial water storage, greenhouse carbon fixation, flood protection and waterway remediation, disposal of mine and other waste, mine water treatment and containment, and education and research. Common attributes and reasons that led to successful repurposing of abandoned pit lakes as beneficial end uses are discussed. Recommendations are given for all stages of mine closure planning to prevent pit lake abandonment and to achieve successful pit lake closure with beneficial end uses. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Use of Abandoned Mines)
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