Introduction

As long as humans have been walking this Earth, they have been mining. Initially, this was limited to collecting rocks, evidence of which goes back at least one million years. However, from about 5000 BC onwards humans started mining for specific minerals, as is suggested by the names of the periods - Copper Age (from 5000 BC), Bronze Age (from 3000 BC), Iron Age (from 1400 BC), Coal Age (from AD 1600), Petroleum Age (from AD 1850), and Uranium Age (from AD 1950). These mining activities have left their traces in the landscape, and in many cases the environment surrounding mines have been severely polluted. Yet, while mineral mining has a history of thousands of years, the history of restoration of mining areas goes back only about one century. This is no doubt due to several factors, including increased pressure on the landscape resulting from large-scale mining and greater human population size and density. In addition, the impact of humans on their environment and the reverse, the dependence of humans on healthy ecosystems, has only been recognized during the twentieth century. This article gives an overview of approaches to restoration of mine sites, with an emphasis on ecological considerations.

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