Clint McCullough (MiWER), Mark Lund (MiWER)
Can Australian pit lakes be used for sustainable enduses for mining companies, communities or the environment?
Being a finite abstraction, “sustainable mining” is something of an oxymoron for what is inherently unsustainable activity. Nevertheless, in an era of increasing recognition of environmental and social damage through an ever-growing scale of mining coupled with increasing corporate social conscience for these activities, the mining industry usually works to reduce operational risk and retain its “social licence to mine” the community resource through a variety of strategies.
Figure: Conceptual beneficial end uses for pit lakes that have already been explored in Australia.
AMD in the Czech Republic; mine pit lakes and their waters are usually considered a liability
For best sustainable management of lease resources for companies, communities and the environment, pit lake management should be more than simply parochial meeting of regulatory criteria to lease relinquishment. Assessing current and potential end uses for pit lakes is an important, yet little-recognised way, in which significant benefits to all three of these stakeholder groups can be made over an indefinite long-period of time, and in a mutually beneficial fashion.
McCullough, C. D. & Lund, M. A. (2006). Opportunities for sustainable mining pit lakes in Australia. Mine Water and the Environment. 25(4): 220-226.