Mining coal - Key potential environmental impacts
What is the issue?
Many properties on which surface coal mines are located provide habitats for birds, animals, fish and plant life. This is especially true in Alberta and British Columbia, where mines often border agricultural lands, forests or wilderness areas. Building and operating these facilities can have impacts on wildlife habitat.
What is industry doing?
Before constructing mines, mining companies, working with government officials, landowners and other interest groups, carry out environmental assessments to identify wildlife species and habitats needing protection.
In planning mine operations, industry considers potential impacts on wildlife and identifies solutions. These can include designing roads and conveyors so as to avoid disruptions to wildlife corridors in the region.
Coal companies consider the needs of local wildlife as part of their land reclamation plans. On the western slopes of the Rocky Mountains, for example, industry has recontoured and replanted mined out areas with native vegetation attractive to elk and deer. As a result of these activities, local wildlife is thriving. Deer, elk and grizzly bears are coexisting with nearby mining operations, as confirmed by comparing current wildlife sightings against baseline studies.
Companies look for ways to integrate biodiversity into land use management of mined-out areas through aerial photography, satellite imagery, geographic information systems and direct research efforts. These allow engineers and scientists to evaluate reclamation efforts and the re-establishment of wildlife habitat.
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