Reclaimed mine sites have been evaluated so that the public, industry, and land planners may recognize there are innovative designs available for consideration and use. People tend to see cropland, range, and road cuts as a necessary part of their everyday life, not as disturbed areas despite their high visibility. Mining also generates a disturbed landscape, unfortunately one that many consider waste until reclaimed by human beings. The development of mining provides an economic base and use of a natural resource to improve the quality of human life. Equally important is a sensitivity to the geologic origin and natural pattern of the land. Wisely shaping out environment requires a design plan and product that responds to a site's physiography, ecology, function, artistic form, and publication perception. An examination of selected sites for their landscape design suggested nine approaches for mining reclamation. The oldest design approach around is nature itself. Humans may sometimes do more damage going to an area in the attempt to repair it. Given enough geologic time, a small-site area, and stable adjacent ecosystems, disturbed areas recover without mankind's input. Visual screens and buffer zones conceal the facility in a camouflage approach. Typically, earth berms, fences, and plantings are used to disguise the mining facility. Restoration targets social or economic benefits by reusing the site for public amenities, most often in urban centers with large populations. A mitigation approach attempts to protect the environment and return mined areas to use with scientific input. The reuse of cement, building rubble, macadam meets only about 10% of the demand from aggregate. Recognizing the limited supply of mineral resources and encouraging recycling efforts are steps are steps in a renewable resource approach. An educative design approach effectively communicates mining information through outreach, land stewardship, and community service. Mine sites used for art show a celebration of beauty and experience -- abstract geology. The last design approach combines art and science in a human-nature ecosystem termed integration. With environmental concerns, an operating or reclaimed mine site can no longer be considered isolated from its surroundings. Site analysis of mine works needs to go beyond site-specific information and relate to the regional context of the greater landscape. Understanding design approach can turn undesirable features (mines and pits) into something perceived as desirable by the public.
Additional publication details
Design approaches in quarrying and pit-mining reclamation
University of Oklahoma
Larger Work Title:
Proceedings of the 34th Forum on the Geology of Industrial Minerals, 1998
34th Forum on the Geology of Industrial Minerals, 1998