Mine rehabilitation and closure made easier

Mine rehabilitations and closures command significant industry attention, yet despite this, the task of accessing knowledge relating to the two has traditionally been quite difficult and expensive.

Combining expertise in minesite rehabilitation, closure planning, information technology and social science, University of Queensland scientists and Central Queensland coal mine rehabilitation experts and practitioners, in addition to other researchers including The University of Queensland Business School Lecturer Dr Carol Bond and Dr Thomas Baumgartl, Vanessa Glenn and Paul Sabourenkov from the Sustainable Minerals Institute (SMI), have developed an online resource called MRC-wiki to ease this barrier.

While the issue is not unique to Central Queensland, it was through the Central Queensland Mine Rehabilitation Group (CQMRG) and Centre for Mined Land Rehabilitation (CMLR) at The University of Queensland, that the knowledge management research project was developed and Australian Coal Association Research Program (ACARP) funding granted.
Initiated by a 2014 scoping study, the platform took shape following a two-year research project which involved a number of workshops with CQMRG and SMI researchers.

The quest for knowledge

There are a variety of readily accessible sources already available on coal mine rehabilitation, including access to research reports via the ACARP website, industry conferences and workshop proceedings and a range of industry and government produced practice guides.

With a wealth of information already out there, the issue can be attributed to the lack of readily accessible knowledge and experience shared between industry personnel.

According to Queensland University Centre for Mined Land Rehabilitation Senior Research Officer Corinne Unger, the CQMRG observed this as a significant loss of knowledge that was commonplace when mine rehabilitation and closure practitioners left their positions.

“This can occur during mining booms and bust cycles or is simply to do with career progression or retirement,” Ms Unger told National Mining Chronicle.

“The kind of knowledge included is personal experience and knowledge gained from working in the field of mine rehabilitation and closure. It can be very technical and specific, or it can be more general about principles applied.

“When knowledge is lost, practices which may have failed in the past can be repeated without that learning being passed on. Similarly, practices which have worked may not be communicated and embedded in practice.

“As a result there can be ‘reinvention of the wheel’. This can be a waste of resources and delay the maturity of rehabilitation and closure programs.” Queensland.

Structured for collaboration

MRC-wiki allows users to capture and collectively?share experiences and knowledge working on mine rehabilitation fields and closures in the coalfields of Central Queensland.

CQMRG Chair Stuart Ritchie said the resource had the potential to define the future of the resources industry.

“As the wiki is seen as a useful provider of information, we hope more practitioners will be motivated to contribute,” he said.

Ms Unger took a similar stance, noting the wiki could expand and increase in value with widespread industry support.

“The MRC-wiki encourages knowledge sharing for a common good, of improved environmental, social and economic outcomes form mining,” she said.

Anyone can access the wiki, with industry practitioners in both Queensland and further afield invited to contribute, should they have valuable knowledge to add. Visit www.mrcwiki.org.au to access the wiki.

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