The future of mining rehabilitation is here
It’s a well-known fact that mining has been a significant primary industry and a major contributor to the Australian economy since the 1800s, with more than 150,000sqkm of Australia’s land surface directly impacted by mining activity.
There is always much excitement when new projects are announced and operations commence but it’s what happens to the land when the resource is extracted, the machinery is switched off, and the trucks roll out that has been a major focus for Western Australian technology start-up, Decipher.
Owned and backed by major Australian conglomerate, Wesfarmers Limited (ASX: WES), Decipher’s goal is to accelerate the responsible, sustainable and productive management of the earth’s resources.
Decipher CEO, Anthony Walker explained that there are a significant number of abandoned mines across the country, and with a mining footprint that increased significantly in WA through the 2000s there is going to be a huge increase in mine closures in 10 to 20 years’ time.
“We saw the opportunity to apply technology that has been used in the agriculture sector and have invested in the development of an innovative mine rehabilitation software solution, DecipherGreen, that could revolutionise the task of mine rehabilitation, closure and ultimately improve the rates of relinquishment of land – either back to Government or to another organisation for use,” said Mr Walker.
Based on strong underlying science DecipherGreen is backed by regulatory technology, with satellite derived earth observation data, a central repository for historic data, a reporting suite and corresponding environmental evaluation.
“It enables us to provide clients with the data and insights they need to ensure they’re meeting environmental obligations and compliance,” he explained. “As importantly it provides the information they need to plan for the closure and rehabilitation of their sites in a way that has a positive impact on their sustainability and social license to operate, as well as the company’s bottom line.”
“It was also imperative for the platform to be user friendly so every aspect has been designed with the user in mind,” said Mr Walker. “We worked with a number of stakeholders and researchers to develop DecipherGreen and are getting excellent reports from the range of clients who are currently trialling the platform.”
“It has been a very rewarding process and it’s been exciting and encouraging to see a cultural shift in the industry in recent years with an increased appetite for collaboration by industry, research bodies and Government in this space,” said Mr Walker.
To leverage that appetite, Decipher has signed on as one of 50 partners supporting a bid for the establishment of a national Cooperative Research Centre for Transformations in Mining Economies (CRC-TiME) in Western Australia, joining the likes of Alcoa, BHP, Rio Tinto, the Western Australian, Queensland and Northern Territory Governments, as well as researchers from eight universities and the CSIRO.
CEO designate for CRC TiME, Associate Professor Guy Boggs is part of the bid team and outlined the potential benefits.
“The CRC-TiME would bring scale and coordinated investment to the world class research being done in Australia, ultimately delivering transformational change to mine closure,” said Dr Boggs.
“Over the next decade we believe we would see a reduction in mine abandonment, an increase in relinquishment and an increase in the diversity of post-mining land uses. It also presents significant export opportunities for Australian companies.”
The CEO of the Minerals Council of Australia, Tania Constable, agrees that mine closure, relinquishment and the transformation of regional economies across the life cycle and post mining are important issues for the industry.
“Significant progress has been made through individual research programs and investment from businesses and we believe there are substantial benefits to be reaped through a coordinated, strategic approach that would be delivered through the CRC-TiME,” said Ms Constable.
There is no doubt it is a time of great opportunity for the mining industry – where the enhancement and improvement of the end-to-end life cycle of mines is going to advance the future for more successful post mine communities across Australia and around the world.
Know what's happening and how it will impact your mining operation in this comprehensive guide.
• Samples of rehabilitation
• The business case for rehabilitation
• What is progressive rehabilitation?
• The Government's involvement
• Legislative changes underway
• Regulation in each Australian state
• Case studies and success stories