Conclusion

Remediation of mine waste from an ecological point of view must integrate aspects of environmental health, problems of scale, ecological services, biodiversity, and longevity. Each mine area requires unique solutions for alleviation of pollution risk, depending upon its age and local environmental conditions. In the short time that remediation has been considered, many different strategies have developed. In many cases, returning the landscape to its original state is not possible, but there may be opportunities to achieve ecologically advantageous alternatives such as creating new habitat or enhancing biodiversity to compensate for losses elsewhere. Successful remediation under dryland conditions is typically found in situations where toxicity of wastes or water was not an issue, such as the examples from Germany and Virginia. If toxicity is an issue, dryland remediation is still possible, but it requires that toxic materials are either removed or isolated and covered, and that comes at a significant cost. The creation of wetlands over mine wastes may require some amendments, but is often easier and cheaper than dryland remediation. In many cases it means that the postmining land use will differ from that before mining activities commenced, but the creation of new wetlands may help alleviate some of the loss of wetland ecosystems around the world.

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