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Position
Research Scientist (Restoration Ecology)
Address
Biodiversity Conservation Centre
Kattidj Close
Kings Park Western Australia 6005
Phone
(+61 8) 9480 3969

Research themes

  • Restoration ecology
  • Post mine site rehabilitation

Background

Completed Bachelor of Science in Natural Resource Management at UWA in 2006. During the summer 2006/7 was offered Kings Park and Botanic Garden Summer Scholarship to continue honour’s research project 'Returning Banksia attenuata and Banksia menziesii to post-sand extracted restoration sites'. In March 2007, as a result of Kings Park and Botanic Garden offering a PhD scholarship, commenced postgraduate research project. Awarded University Postgraduate Award in 2008 (upgraded to Australian Postgraduate Award in 2009).

Project

Title: Vegetation restoration to waste rock dumps at Telfer Gold Mine – Topsoil Management and Plant Establishment

University: The University of Western Australia

Supervisors: Dr. Deanna Rokich, Professor Kingsley Dixon

Industry sponsors: Newcrest Pty Ltd

Description:

Newcrest Pty Ltd operates a gold mine at Telfer on the western edge of the Great Sandy Desert of Western Australia. As a part of mine site rehabilitation Newcrest have initiated a project to create a mesa-type landform design for waste rock dumps instead of the typical, and unnatural looking, stepped berm and bench design.

This 'mesa' landform project will characterise the ecohydrology of waste rock dumps and natural mesas, and then provide design parameters for a stable rock dump landform that will encapsulate potentially acid forming waste rock with the aim of preventing acid mine drainage.

Revegetation of the waste rock dump will be crucial in the long-term stability of the 'mesa' landform by preventing erosion of the landform surface and reducing rainwater drainage reaching potentially acid-forming waste rock encapsulated within the rock dump. Also, vegetation will provide habitats that will enable colonisation of mine sites by other biota. Topsoil is a valuable resource for minesite revegetation as it contains the seeds of indigenous species adapted to local environmental conditions and also contains fungal and bacterial symbionts for promoting the establishment of these species.

Crucially, the species complexes and ecosystems found at Telfer represent community types that are dissimilar to sites historically rehabilitated. No detailed study has been undertaken of the soil seed bank and the most appropriate methods of topsoil harvesting and spreading for restoring diverse vegetation to a mine site in an arid tropical environment. Importantly, Telfer is located in a highly prospective region for minerals, so this research project will provide valuable information that will improve the environmental management of future mining operations and optimise the planning of topsoil management in a wider area.

The proposed research will aim to describe the soil seedbank of the major landforms and investigate the optimal methods of revegetating rock waste dumps using the valuable but limited topsoil resource found within the Telfer minesite footprint. Alternatively, topsoil will be borrowed from outside of the mine footprint and seed broadcasting technologies will be used.

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