Aggregate extraction is an interim land use. Once aggregate is extracted from a pit or quarry, the site is rehabilitated into a variety of future land uses, such as productive wildlife habitats, wetlands, golf courses, recreational parks, urban uses, conservation lands, forestry or agricultural lands.
What is rehabilitation?
Rehabilitation of a pit or quarry involves the management of all of the property's natural resources during the aggregate extraction process. Topsoil, including the seed sources that it contains, and overburden are managed (i.e. stripped and placed on site or used in boundary bunding) throughout the life of the operation to ensure that they can be used to progressively create a new landscape and land use for the pit or quarry.
Rehabilitation options are considered and identified during the preliminary licensing process and can become a legal requirement when the site is first licensed. As the aggregate extraction progresses through the site, the topsoil and overburden are replaced to ensure that the property is properly prepared for its future land use. Rehabilitation activities commonly include wildlife habitat restoration and forestry management activities, proper soil enhancement to ensure agricultural productivity, landform creation to support recreational activities, and many other techniques designed to ensure the next land use for the property is productive and sensitive to local land use patterns.
Aggregate producers must perform progressive rehabilitation as they extract their sites, with councils making sure it is done. Progressive rehabilitation means rehabilitation done sequentially within a reasonable time after the extraction of aggregate resources is complete. As one area of their pit or quarry is being extracted, rehabilitation must be completed in the areas where the aggregate reserves have been exhausted. Progressive rehabilitation is beneficial in many ways as it:
- Reduces the open areas within a pit or quarry
- Reduces soil erosion potential
- Reduces double-handling of soil materials