Improving environmental management during mine rehabilitation and closure was the focus of a week-long field course for environmental science students from The University of Western Australia and mineral engineering students from Canada’s University of Toronto.
Thirty undergraduate students from UWA and the University of Toronto travelled to five active and closed mine sites across south-west Western Australia as part of a new international partnership between the two universities.
The sites included end pit lakes at Collie, Newmont Goldcorp’s Boddington gold mine, processing plant, and tailings storage facility, Talison Lithium’s Greenbushes lithium mine and processing plant, and a bauxite mine and residue storage facility.
The field trip was coordinated by Dr Talitha Santini, Director of the Environmental Stewardship in Mining Initiative at UWA, and Professor Lesley Warren, Director of the Lassonde Institute of Mining at the University of Toronto.
Dr Santini said the international field trip was an outstanding opportunity for students to see the challenges involved in effective mine site rehabilitation and closure.
“It has helped them understand the long-term value and benefits for the environment, regional economies and communities, as well as gain hands-on experience in dealing with these challenges,” Dr Santini said.
“This is the first step in developing a a strong partnership in mining research and education between our two universities, each of which is a global leader in this field.”
Professor Warren said mining was global in scope, scale and impact but the challenges differed depending on the country of operation.
“Having students begin to appreciate the full breadth of the challenges as well as the innovative and best practices emerging around the world, increases their competencies and develops a globalised community of talent for this vital Australian and Canadian sector,” he said. “We are excited to grow this initiative between our two universities.”
UWA Environmental Science student Gabriella Gray said the field trip provided a great experience for students, enabling them to see the mine sites and realise the large scale of their operations. University of Toronto Mineral Engineering student Sarah Kumar said the experience had given her valuable knowledge that would help her to make more insightful decisions as a future mining engineer.