Mine closure and contaminated land management share aim for future land use

A National Science Week feature story

When it comes to remediating contaminated land or water, environmental scientist Claire Fitzpatrick says managing contamination is “very similar to mine rehabilitation in the perspective of wiping the slate clean and returning the land to the way it was before.”

Claire presented on mine closure and how contaminated land management is approached in the Latrobe Valley’s brown coal mines as a case study, to more than 80 participants at a Young Professionals Seminar, an event into its ninth year and held by the Australian Contaminated Land Consultants Association (ACLCA), a peak industry body for contaminated land consultants.

“Similar to contaminated land remediation, we are aiming to return the land to a state where it is available for certain future land uses – industrial, recreational, residential, or agricultural,” Claire said.

“But unlike contaminated land where we look at the source, its pathway and potential environmental impacts for example, mine rehabilitation must consider a whole-of-site objective, involving a plan for not only future land use, but also future landform.”

Claire’s presentation won the Victorian chapter’s competition, awarding her a $1,000 cash prize and full registration access to the Australasian Land & Groundwater Association Ltd Ecoforum virtual conference where she will also present in September, alongside the winners of other ACLCA state chapters.

Claire completed a Bachelor of Science with Honours in Chemistry at The University of Melbourne. In her role at AECOM’s Geosciences and Remediation Services team, Claire carries out a variety of functions including monitoring groundwater, sampling soil, and reporting on the outcomes of these works.

Pictured above: Claire samples surface water from Cherry Lake in Altona, Victoria.

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