5 examples of extraordinary repurposed mine sites
- The Social Aspects of Mine Closure Research Consortium established a scoping project, ‘Mining as temporary land use: industry-led transitions and repurposing‘
- The project’s primary focus is on identifying examples of post-mining repurposing of land and related economic transitions that are led by industry
- The aim of the project is to provide an overview of the ‘state of play’ and identify future research and policy directions
- This article shares 5 examples of mine sites that have been repurposed into tourist attractions, data centers, nature parks and hotels
Post-mining land use and associated economies have become a priority issue in mine lifecycle planning. This scoping project by The Social Aspects of Mine Closure Research Consortium starts from the position that reconceptualising mine ‘closure’ may enhance the industry’s contribution to sustainable development.
The primary focus is on identifying examples of post-mining repurposing of land and related economic transitions that are being led by industry. Transitions led by state or other actors (e.g. civil society groups) provide additional inspiration for industry-led opportunities. Our findings provide an initial repository of cases that different parties can to refer to in making decisions about post-mining futures.
The aim of the project is to provide an overview of the ‘state of play’ and identify future research and policy directions that encompass a breadth of options for repurposed mining landscapes, infrastructure and economic linkages.
Repurposing mining landscapes
‘Repurposing’ often occurs after, or alongside, other activities in the closure process, and they are often reused for more than one purpose, indicating that though the previous mining land-use may have been singular, post-mining transitions are not.
The most common repurposing land-uses were:
- Community and culture
- Conservation and ecosystem services
- Non-intensive recreation
- Intensive recreation
- Construction and commercial
Community and Culture
Community and Culture tends to reconfigure mining infrastructure as cultural heritage and often relates to abandoned mines and or historical sites.
For example, Zollverein Coal Mine in Germany was repurposed into an entertainment hub.
Zollverein was one of the world’s largest coal mines from the end of the 19th century to the early 20th century. After the First World War, the complex was completely renovated for increased output to help with Germany’s rebuilding. But with the renovation, architects took an innovative approach and designed the buildings for aesthetic appeal—not just practical needs—starting an international movement.
Conservation and Ecosystem Services
This category encompasses sites that have been repurposed for wildlife habitat, native woodlands, carbon offset and wetlands.
For example, Kebun Raya Megawati Soekarnoputri in Indonesia is a former Newmont mining area that has been transformed into a botanical garden.
The rehabilitated and repurposed area has many benefits such as conservation, education and environmental services. One of the key criteria for plants that are widely developed in this botanical garden are phytoremediation types of plants (plants that remove pollutants from contaminated soil and water).
The Mega Cavern mine in Kentucky was repurposed into Louisville Mega Cavern (Mega Underground Bike Park), the only underground bike park in the world.
The cavern was mined from the early 1930’s to the early 1970’s. It was acquired by private investors who saw the potential to develop a portion of the cavern into an environmentally-conscious high security commercial storage facility. The repurposing of this mine is a prime example of how miners and companies can utilise abandoned or reclaimed mine sites for other purposes.
The Tianma Pit in Shanghai was repurposed into the Shimao Wonderland InterContinental Hotel in 2018.
The abandoned mine and quarry was transformed into the 18-story hotel, featuring 16 floors below ground level, sequential hanging gardens that produce the effect of a green hill extending down the face of the quarry, and a extreme sports center.
Construction and Commercial
The Lefdal Mine was an abandoned mine-turned data center in Norway, The Lefdal Mine Data center.
Drawing all of its power from hydroelectric and wind power produced locally, the datacentre can go up to 200MW – larger than each of Facebook’s two 120MW facilities in northern Sweden, and Apple’s planned data center in Denmark, estimated to be between 100MW and 144MW. The center consists of six levels, sprawling over 1.3 million square feet that can be used for data storage, connected by a paved road that descends in a spiral through tunnels 45 feet wide and almost 30 feet high.
Watch this video to find out more about mine rehabilitation
Driving progressive mine rehabilitation and closure - DecipherIn this video, Decipher CEO Anthony Walker discusses the challenges facing mine rehabilitation and closure globally, and talks about how different technology solutions can help mining companies solve those challenges and drive progressive closure.
To learn more about Decipher's Mine Rehabilitation and Closure solutions, visit: https://www.decipher.com.au/solutions/mine-rehabilitation/
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The Social Aspects of Mine Closure Research Consortium is a multi-party, industry-university research collaboration. Established in 2019, the consortium aims to conduct research that challenges accepted industry norms and practices, and demands new approaches that places people at the centre of mine closure.
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