Rehabilitation of Peak Hill Gold Mine
The Peak Hill Gold Mine 50km north of Parkes NSW operated from 1996 to 2005. Soon after mining started, Alkane commenced progressive rehabilitation of the landforms, and has in fact improved biodiversity across the site as a whole over the past 20 years.
The mining operations at Peak Hill were designed from day one with progressive rehabilitation in mind. The final landform created by waste rock was regularly shaped and contoured to ensure stability and direct rainwater run-off to a single sediment pond. In addition, a mix of self-sustaining pasture species (mainly grasses and legumes) were seeded to further stabilise the landform.
The open cuts themselves remain in place post-mining, and are now enjoying the natural regeneration of trees and shrubs. Peregrine falcons and bats also sometimes nest in the sheer faces of the pits.
New woodland areas
Prior to Alkane’s operations, the site was littered with abandoned mining activities (from decades past), and the hill had become a dumping ground for building rubble and abandoned cars. Alkane cleared the whole area of rubbish and immediately began rehabilitating the land surrounding the mining operations. Thousands of native tree and shrub species were planted around the perimeter – 20 years later these have evolved into a maturing woodland, home to many different species of birds and animals.
To help measure the success of the site’s rehabilitation, Landscape Function Analysis (LFA) is used as a tool to quantify landscape stability and ecosystem function. This takes the form of periodic and systematic measurements of vegetation patches and bare soil areas to determine the rate at which resources (such as water infiltration, soil nutrients, biodiversity etc) are returning to the area – a mark of rehabilitation success. Results indicate that the site condition is actually better than when mining commenced – the direct result of Alkane’s activities.
Open Cut Experience
The Peak Hill Gold Mine site now hosts the Open Cut Experience – a free tourist attraction that provides the public with insights into the history and practice of gold mining from 1889-1917 and 1996-2005.
Peak Hill Gold Mine is one of only a few modern gold mines with an active mining lease open to the public, providing a unique opportunity for visitors to learn about modern mining and land rehabilitation. Visitors can experience the five open cuts in a pleasant bushland setting, learning from 22 interpretive signs provided by Alkane that describe the site ecology, mining and Aboriginal history, mine rehabilitation activities and more.
The Open Cut Experience was a 2003 finalist in the NSW Tourism Awards. Parkes Shire Council, which maintains the site, was recently awarded $120,000 under the NSW Government’s Regional Visitor Economy Fund to go towards the Peak Hill Gold Mine Visitor Experience Improvement Program.