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ENVIS Technical Report 80,   October 2014

Reclamation of Mine Regions at Bisgod: Approaches and Challenges

Energy and Wetlands Research Group, Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore 560 012
*Corresponding author: cestvr@ces.iisc.ernet.in, energy@ces.iisc.ernet.in [080-22933099]
Executive Summary

Mine reclamation entails restoring landscape so as to regain its earlier ecological status. Although the process of mine reclamation occurs with the cessation of mining, planning of mine reclamation activities need to be done prior to mining in a region. This helps to provide protection and mitigate the adverse environmental impacts while improving the aesthetics of the area. Mine closure plan needs to focus on the beneficial post closure use to all stakeholders including proximate communities. Mining is a temporary use of a natural resources such as land and are disturbed by the operations that needs to be rehabilitated after completion of mining. 

Mining activity has significant ecological, economic and social footprints much beyond the physical boundaries of mines. In-situ beneficiation and long distance transportation of minerals also significantly contribute to expand the mining footprint over a geographically large area. The environmental degradation is a manifestation of agents such as socio-economic, institutional, technological activities, population growth and rising energy use and transportation. However, preventative measures help in mitigating the effects of further degradation due to mining. Region specific land use planning would help in minimizing land degradation. These initiatives will help in controlling fragmentation considering issues such as deforestation, increase in population and infrastructure development. Mine site closure planning should occur within the initial mine planning and feasibility assessment phase prior to the commencement of mine site operations. Earlier practices of mine closure and rehabilitation have neglected the fundamental concepts of land use development and integrated mine closure planning. The planning always operates under legislative measures which prescribes recommendations and regulations. So, if the planning incorporates by using zoning measures addressing specific parcels rather than land use plans at general basis.

Environmental issues including reclamation, rehabilitation are under surveillance of Indian bureau of mining (IBM) by virtue of implementation of approved closure plans and further creating awareness among mining community through Mines Environment & Mineral Conservation (MEMC) during last three decades. Indian mineral policy amended in 1993, to include minimisation of adverse effects on forest, environment and ecology with due regards to safety and health of all concerned people and rehabilitation of mine closures and displaced persons. But, in the case of Bisgod, reclamation process is weak despite some initiatives of afforestation by forest department and other agencies. Mine closure planning should recognise that rehabilitation provides an opportunity for post mine land use development, mitigate environmental damage, achieve a productive use of the land, or return the land to its original condition or an acceptable alternative and provide for sustainability or social and economic benefits, which were not effectively attained in Bisgod region.