In spite of being recognized as a major contributor to national economy in terms of generating revenues, improving services, and increasing employment in local communities, mining is still perceived by the general public as a serious threat to the environment and human health. The need to share best practices and technologies in restoring ex-mined sites among countries in Southeast Asia is important to mitigate the negative impacts of the mining industry but at the same time continue to contribute to national economy and development.
Thus, BIOTROP and Kasetsart University (KU) conducted a seminar on Transforming Ex-Mined Sites into Productive Landscapes on 28 November 2014 at KU Faculty of Forestry in Bangkok, Thailand.
Attended by 40 mining managers and environmental officers, lecturers, researchers, and graduate students from Thailand and Indonesia, the seminar discussed about best practices, technologies, challenges, and opportunities in ex-mined site restoration in the two countries. The seminar also provided the venue to explore possible research and capacity building collaboration on the subject matter among the participating mining companies and academic institutions in Thailand and Indonesia.
KU Faculty of Forestry Dean and BIOTROP Governing Board Member Dr Chongrak Wachrinrat welcomed and thanked the participants and resource persons attending the seminar. In officially opening the seminar, BIOTROP Director Prof. Dr. Bambang Purwantara emphasized the importance of having effective collaboration among government agencies, the business sector, non-governmental organizations (NGO), and academic institutions to provide a strong mechanism for solving the environmental and social problems caused by mining industry.
BIOTROP Deputy Director for Resources Management Dr. Irdika Mansur shared the Centre’s experiences in mainstreaming biodiversity conservation in ex-mined sites in Indonesia. On the other hand, Dr. Sakhan Teejuntuk discussed KU’s research and development experiences in rehabilitating ex-mined sites in Thailand. Representatives from Mae Moh Coal Mining Company, Siam Cement Company and Padaeng Zinc Mining Industry from Thailand, and Bukit Asam Coal Mining Company, and Indonesian Forum on Forest Reclamation in Post Mining Areas also presented their best practices in ex-mined site reclamation during the seminar.
The seminar surfaced the following areas for collaboration among mining stakeholders to enhance and sustain efforts in restoring ex-mined sites:
1. Developing guidelines on formulating clear purposes and restoration plan from the onset of mining operation.
2. Considering the variation in the types of mining industries existing in the region as this has implication on the type of reclamation to be done and the technologies needed
3. Creating awareness among stakeholders on the appropriate closure plan for the mined areas that would be beneficial to all towards ensuring its maintenance once the restored site is turned over to the communities/local government
4. Documenting, compiling, and sharing best practices through publication, seminar, training, public dialogues, cross-visits, and other appropriate learning materials and events
5. Assessing and identifying reclamation options that are appropriate and more affordable to maximize the full potentials of the ex-mined sites to be restored
6. Evaluating mining reclamation projects specifically to focus on forest functions and services (e.g., carbon sequestration, climate change mitigation, CSR, etc) other than biodiversity conservation
The seminar was part of the memorandum of understanding between BIOTROP and KU. BIOTROP Deputy Director for Program Dr Jess Fernandez and KUFF Asst Prof Dr Kobsak Wathongchai coordinated it.