Mining is not a permanent land use but its long years of operation results to the release of heavy metals and dangerous acids that lead to destruction of plants and trees in an ecosystem. Because of these toxins, it is very difficult to restore ecosystems back to life.
Restoring ecology is the process of putting an ecosystem back to life from a traumatic experience in activities like mining. There is an extreme need to siphon the toxins out of the soil left by mining operations to save the ground from infertility. This can be done by planting shrubs fitted to save the damaged ecosystem and to enhance the growth of other plant species in the mining areas.
Part of ecosystems restoration is scraping the topsoil before mining operations begin and then reintegrating it into an ecosystem. The top soil is made up of a thin layer but it contains a lot of minerals needed for the restoration and survival of the mining area.
An important way to restore the ecosystem is by identifying the acidic rocks in a mining area because they are very destructive to the environment due to their high level of toxic components. Since these rocks release heavy metals, they can be neutralized by combining them with non-acid rocks in a specific area in preparation for the growing of plants.
The availability of modern techniques and technology can restore an ecosystem damaged by mining in a span of only 5 years. In restoring the ecosystem back to life, there is a need to orient and equip the stakeholders in the mining industry to implement responsible mining by preserving the land instead of leaving a barren landscape. This is in fact a solution to some of the problems related to the environment.
On the other hand, programs aimed at restoring the lands damaged by gravel and sand mining are now widespread globally, but the high costs involved to restore them remain an obstacle. However, a new study revealed a significant hope that these damaged lands can still be restored effectively within a number of years at minimal cost.
Based on the research, damaged sites can be restored even without extreme human efforts just by intensive re-vegetation. This process enables the plants from surrounding areas of disused gravel-sand pits to move in and establish roots on their own. The abandoned mines will restore themselves within a period of 25 years in a natural way.
These research findings, however, have created major setbacks for their immediate implementation around the world.
Debates on the relative costs and benefits to restore ecosystems are ongoing on the grounds that concerned agencies could not believe that the projects will not require too much human interference. They also doubt the veracity of the evidence that intensive re-vegetation based on this study does not need heavy financial considerations.
In these reclamation projects, there is no need to use expensive technology because we can just depend on spontaneous succession in re-vegetation. It is just a matter of preserving some leftovers of natural vegetation during and after mining operations to use as sources of seeds to restore ecosystems.