ACARP ACARP ACARP ACARP
Open Cut

Developing Closure Criteria for River Diversions: An Alternative to Reference Sites

Open Cut » Environment

Published: October 19Project Number: C25031

Get ReportAuthor: Melanie Blanchette and Mark Lund | Edith Cowan University

The use of reference sites for establishing closure criteria in areas disturbed by mining activities is accepted by regulators across Australia. However, this approach often creates impossible or unrealistic targets for miners seeking to close rehabilitated lands. In order to increase stakeholder certainty, transparency, and environmental performance in mine closure, this project looked at moving away from the use of reference sites towards an approach that considers the variability of the system under study. Using established multivariate statistical techniques, the model compares the biophysical criteria in rehabilitated sites to the overall spatial and temporal biophysical variability of the local environment (hereafter referred to as 'system variability'), rather than specific reference sites. The purpose of this project was to test the system variability approach as a potential closure technique ('proof-of-concept').

This project complements and extends existing project outcomes in C8030, C9068, C20017 and C23030 by combining river assessment techniques applied to diversions for the purposes of closure, which can also be applied to terrestrial ecosystems. This project was field-based, and also used artificial habitat to evaluate microbial colonisation.  Site descriptions and descriptions of biophysical variables 'set the stage' for the difficulty of using reference sites in catchment and river restoration: sites within rivers were different, and seasonality drove differences in biophysical variables within sites over time.

River sites (32 total) on the Goulburn River and Bowman's Creek, New South Wales were sampled multiple times during an annual hydroperiod (2016-2017) for biophysical characteristics to test the system variability approach. Characteristics and potential management considerations for each individual study site over time are described.

As part of the system variability approach, the project also explored the use of pelagic and benthic microbes (Archaea, Bacteria) as indicators of river condition. While microbe assemblages at sites could demonstrate 'trajectory' towards the variability of the rest of the river, microbial function was not assessed.

In fulfilment of Objective 2 improvements to river monitoring protocols and sampling approaches have been provided throughout the report. A formal review of existing monitoring at both sites has not been undertaken as these are generally mandated by compliance requirements.

The system variability approach to closure allows companies to develop multiple lines of evidence that sites are being rehabilitated. This is an improvement on the reference site approach because it does not require pre-impact data and allows companies to track the progress of their sites over time. The approach also allows greater understanding of the overall system under study and is therefore more scientifically robust and transparent, providing a stronger case for closure to stakeholders.

The model clearly accounted for natural ecosystem temporal and spatial variability. However, in some cases visual portrayal was not useful because 'flattening' multidimensional ordinations for 2-dimensional viewing did not accurately portray differences among a priori groups. Nevertheless, the statistics are used in decision-making for closure and ordinations are for visual inspection only.

In Objective 4 artificial colonization media ('coupons') to two river sites (Ulan Creek, Goulburn River) was introduced and characterized microbial assemblages on coupons over time. Microbial assemblages on coupons at both sites were composed of 'core' taxa and 'peripheral taxa'. Microbial assemblages were different within the 50 m transect, indicating that microhabitat variables likely influenced assemblage composition. This result supports experimental design for the system variability approach, where homogenised sediments were within the 50 m transect to override (as much as possible) microhabitat differences.

In order to develop the most scientifically sound approach to the system variability model of closure, it is recommended stakeholders initially consult with a scientist who specialises in the system under study. The approach can be further refined to become more 'user friendly,' measuring only the most important indicators for ongoing monitoring. It is also recommended that ongoing data analysis occurs in conjunction with scientific consultation and all data is retained and methods documented to reduce bias.

The intensive nature of the data collection required for the systems variability approach revealed insights into the functioning of the rivers and potential challenges this may pose for companies, which have been detailed throughout the report.

In summary, this approach has merit as a closure technique, and can be further refined and extended to other taxa of interest. Due to the systematic study of the biophysical variables, combined with cutting-edge genomic techniques, this project has provided companies with a deeper understanding of processes occurring in diversions and mine-impacted catchments.

Underground

Health and safety, productivity and environment initiatives.

Recently Completed Projects

C28026Measuring The Height Of Fracturing Above Extracted Longwall Panels To Improve Reliability Of Groundwater Impact Predictions

Longwall mining is a mining method widely used in the Australian und...

C25059Development Of An Intrinsically Safe, Integrated Wireless Communications Network With A Distributed Array Of Geotechnical Sensors

For over 20 years, SCT Operations (SCT) have provided a range of ind...

C26051An On-Machine Bolting And Geotechnical Monitoring System

The primary objective of this project was to investigate how laser s...

Underground

Open Cut

Safety, productivity and the right to operate are priorities for open cut mine research.

Recently Completed Projects

C27046Estimation Of True Deformation Vector From Slope Radar Monitoring

Slope deformation radar monitors are now widely used in open cut coa...

C29003Wear Debris Removal From Dragline Commutators

The original aim of this project was to establish a method of removi...

C28037Local Scale Dispersion Modelling To Support ACARP Emission Factors

There remains significant concern in the industry regarding the accu...

Open Cut

Coal Preparation

Maximising throughput and yield while minimising costs and emissions.

Recently Completed Projects

C27032Coal Grain Analysis Applications Handbook

This Handbook sets out recommended practices for using coal grain an...

C26012Improved Flotation Recovery Via Controlling Froth Behaviour

There is no real-time measurement for coal flotation performance, ma...

C27012Towards Better Fine Coal Classification

It is well recognised that the efficient classification of fine coal...

Coal Preparation

Technical Market Support

Market acceptance and emphasising the advantages of Australian coals.

Recently Completed Projects

C26039Nanoporosity In Cokes: Their Origin, Control And Influence On CO2 Reactivity

This project using the outcomes of previous project C24060, examine...

C28063A Comprehensive Technical Review Of High-Efficiency Low-Emission (HELE) Pulverised Coal Combustion Technologies For Power Generation

Research and development has been undertaken worldwide to realise co...

C28064Carbon Structure Transformation During Coking Of Australian Coking Coals: Better Understanding The Coke Formation

Carbon structures of coke that are formed during the plastic layer a...

Technical Market Support

Mine Site Greenhouse Gas Mitigation

Mitigating greenhouse gas emissions from the production of coal.

Recently Completed Projects

C26004CFD Modelling Of Reverse Thermal Oxidisers For VAM Abatement - CFD Modelling Of Fixed-Bed RTO Devices

The project is part of a larger multi‐phase program of study a...

C27058Technological Assessment Of A Recycle Reactor For VAM Abatement

Underground coal mining emits high volumes of methane, diluted in ve...

C27008Selective Absorption Of Methane By Ionic Liquids

The connection of a ventilation air methane (VAM) abatement plant di...

Mine Site Greenhouse Gas Mitigation

Low Emission Coal Use

Step-change technologies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Recently Completed Projects

C17060BGasification Of Australian Coals

Four Australian coals were trialled in the Siemens 5 MWth pilot scale ga...

C17060AOxyfuel Technology For Carbon Capture And Storage Critical Clean Coal Technology - Interim Support

The status of oxy-fuel technology for first-generation plant is indicate...

C18007Review Of Underground Coal Gasification

This report consists of a broad review of underground coal gasification,...

Low Emission Coal Use

Mining And The Community

The relationship between mines and the local community.

Recently Completed Projects

C16027Assessing Housing And Labour Market Impacts Of Mining Developments In Bowen Basin Communities

The focus of this ACARP-funded project has been to identify a number...

C22029Understanding And Managing Cumulative Impacts Of Coal Mining And Other Land Uses In Regions With Diversified Economies

The coal industry operates in the context of competing land-uses that sh...

C23016Approval And Planning Assessment Of Black Coal Mines In NSW And Qld: A Review Of Economic Assessment Techniques

This reports on issues surrounding economic assessment and analysis ...

Mining And The Community

NERDDC

National Energy Research,Development & Demonstration Council (NERDDC) reports - pre 1992.

Recently Completed Projects

1609-C1609Self Heating of Spoil Piles from Open Cut Coal Mines

Self Heating of Spoil Piles from Open Cut Coal Mines

1301-C1301Stress Control Methods for Optimised Development...

Stress Control Methods for Optimised Development and Extraction Operations

0033-C1356Commissioned Report: Australian Thermal Coals...

Commissioned Report: Australian Thermal Coals - An Industry Handbook

NERDDC