Mine site restoration formalised at COP 15 with world’s first global standards

Mine site restoration

Mine site restoration has been formalised at COP 15 in Montreal with new global standards for environmental restoration of mining activities.

Mine site restoration is a key topic at COP15 where the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER) and partners released the International Principles and Standards for the Ecological Restoration and Recovery of Mine Sites, a first-of-its-kind framework with standards for socially and environmentally responsible restoration of mining activities.

Governments from around the world are convening to implement actions that will transform society’s relationship with biodiversity and to ensure that, by 2050, the shared vision of living in harmony with nature is fulfilled. With less than one per cent of global mines achieving ecosystem restoration and with abandoned and legacy mines taking up an area of at least 50,000 sq km, these global standards are not just timely, but imperative if we are to move from mining reclamation to restoration that truly heals the planet.

These standards are designed to inspire and drive better restoration outcomes in mining landscapes while supporting the mining industry and stakeholders — including Indigenous peoples and local communities — to address the unique challenges of ecological restoration in mined lands.

“The Standards come at a time of unprecedented planetary expansion of mining to more than 101,000 sq km,” said Professor Kingsley Dixon, mining restoration specialist and chair of SER. “Less than one in each hundred mines have successfully closed and restored the land. The new standards provide the first global blueprint for helping mining operations to create a net gain for nature and human welfare.”

Dr. Carolyn Jewell, senior biodiversity manager at Heidelberg Materials added: “As a company operating extraction sites worldwide, it is important that we minimize our impacts and create value through expanding our contribution to ecological restoration, regardless of whether this is legally required or not. To be a responsible and sustainable company means not only ensuring economic prosperity, but supporting our local communities and the natural environment in which they live.”

SER partnered with the ARC Centre for Mine Site Restoration, Curtin University (Australia), Southern University of Science and Technology (China), and more than a dozen organizations around the world to develop these Standards. It is a living document to be refined as needed.

“At this time of unparalleled global human impacts, where climate change, land degradation, and biodiversity loss, it’s imperative that all industries, including mining, adopt forward thinking, science-based, effective approaches to begin healing the planet. These new Standards, in combination with the considerable resources of the mining industry, can help address past, current, and future mining impacts,” said lead author, Dr. Renee Young, program director conservation and restoration, WABSI.

The MSRS and key concepts summary can be accessed at ser.org/mining

For more than 30 years, the Society for Ecological Restoration has been working to ensure that ecological restoration is recognized and utilized as a fundamental component of global conservation, biodiversity and sustainable development programs, and that ecological restoration projects are designed and implemented in a way that provides people with the opportunity to not only repair ecological damage, but also improve the human condition.

The Australian Research Council’s Centre for Mine Site Restoration at Curtin University aims to deliver a suite of integrated and focused research projects underpinning successful mining restoration outcomes.

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