When a mining site « dies », after being mined, whether it was industrial, semi-industrial or artisanal, the area where it is located does not die. In these abandoned areas, communities remain, sometimes even a few animal species that try to reclaim their living space. However, more rarely, plant species remain stunted because their soil has been so exhausted by mining practices that are too often contaminated by the use of chemical or petroleum products. In other words, a site that has been abandoned because it no longer provides or no longer provides enough of its resources, remains a territory that only needs to be restored for future generations…
In a previous article, we explain how mining operations deplete the soil and sometimes permanently destroy the plant cover, thus modifying the climatology of the area. However, in the context of our mining operations, and more importantly within the Barksanem™ License, we believe that the mining company, large or small, can play a crucial role in the restoration of these suffering territories.
One of these actions, to be included from the outset, in the mining company’s business plan, is the replanting of trees. And not only because it is rather fashionable these days and many companies and associations all over the world are getting into it. Some reforestation initiatives, if they start from simply a good intention, do more harm to the environment than we think!
Reforestation of a mining site
« During a reforestation or afforestation process, decisions must be made as to which species are to be replanted: native or exotic, versatile or fast-growing, naturally regenerating or not. Such essential choices are sometimes poorly evaluated, particularly in the selection of species.
Eucalyptus is a good example. Often chosen for its lightning growth and economic profitability, this tree is generally planted on land where it is totally exotic and which is not suitable for it. Requiring considerable quantities of water, it then dries up the water tables and competes with local species while impoverishing the soil. However, in the Sahelian region, many people have chosen this species to compensate for plant losses caused by mining and quarrying …
The involvement of local communities seems essential to the rehabilitation initiative of mining sites. The creation of a nursery – which creates jobs – accompanied by skills to raise the right species for the restoration of a site and involving villagers who will be trained in replanting seems indispensable. The initiative will not only benefit the area after the mining operations, but also during and long afterwards!
Imagine, in a given village, the creation of such a nursery, the training of « replanting agents », the involvement of local schools, commercial activities with local actors to sell seedlings to be replanted, etc. It is an entirely perfect anchored economy that could develop around the replanting of trees. The mining company that would have integrated such an approach into its project would only be accompanying a dynamic that will have to continue long after its passage through the territory.
In addition to this, the mining company could draw inspiration from other initiatives such as the creation of bocage areas to restore sustainable agricultural activities, the recreation of animal habitats, the development of economic activities through the production of fruit from the replanting of fruit trees endemic to the area, etc. A mining territory never dies if each mining company decides to participate in the present and future of said territory, in one way or another, impacting their territory where it is located.
Finally, from this perspective, we believe that regional and national governments should take up the issue of mining site restoration and impose legislation that would make the approach we are proposing compulsory. However, this is probably no longer within our control!