Environmental rehabilitation is crucial element of mining closure / reclaimation responsibilities of mining companies. In industry best practices, environmental rehabilitation should not simply mean recreating physical landscape and nature as existing prior mining operation started. It goes far beyond operations of removing buildings and roads as well as covering up and re-vegetating rock piles.
In general, mining operation takes many years (some mines can last more than 50 years). Thus, closure and rehabilitation plan shall address the intended environmental conditions in the future rather than in the present or before mining started. The environmental rehabilitation shall take in consideration of the future end-land use planning and long term environmental objectives related to the site. It shall be a responsibility to restore or redevelop all ecosystem services values at the sites to the same or better conditions compared to what existed prior mining. In this context, mining closure and environmental rehabilitation shall also include post-closure responsibilities on continuing existence and sustainability of the rehabilitated ecosystem services at subject mining site.
Therefore, both prior and post mining ecosystem services values shall be determined in advance as earlier as possible before any mining operations allowed to start. Those values shall be clearly defined to form as part of environmental baseline and planned end-land use objectives in the Environmental Management Plan for approval by relevant government authorities.