The Australian landscape is affected by abandoned mines that pose environmental, public health and safety risks. To promote the beneficial reuse, rehabilitation and/or remediation of these sites and understand their spatial arrangement, we compiled, classified and analysed a country-wide geospatial database of all known inactive hard rock mine sites. Following extensive review and classification of disparate records of such sites that have been terminated, neglected or classified as heritage, plus those under care and maintenance in Australia, we assessed state-by-state reporting and cross-border rehabilitation requirements. This was enabled by the development of the Mining Incidence Documentation & Assessment Scheme (MIDAS) that can be used to catalogue and compare active or inactive mine data regardless of reporting conventions. At a national level, and with four case studies, we performed GIS-based spatial analyses and environmental risk assessments to demonstrate potential uses of our database. Analyses considered the proximity of sites to factors such as infrastructure and sensitive environmental receptors. As Australia struggles to manage the ongoing technical, socioeconomic and environmental challenges of effective mine rehabilitation, the insights enabled by this national-level spatial database may be key to developing coordinated responses that extend beyond state boundaries. Our classification and methodology are easily transferable, thereby encouraging more formalized, systematic and widespread documentation of abandoned mines worldwide.
- Abandoned mines
- Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
- Mine classification
- Mine rehabilitation
- Spatial analysis
- Sustainable landscape planning