Malaysia – Integrating Restoration in Quarry Operating Plans
The 54-hectare project, launched in 2006, was designed to restore the balance of flora and fauna and should go on for another 8 years. Remediation will take place in several stages, the biggest being reforestation.
The Ipoh limestone quarry (Pigments for Paper & Packaging Asia-Pacific) is divided into two zones, each with a specific type of reforestation:
- Low-lying terrain, as well as the entrance and access road to the site, comprised the first remediation phase. These sections, where the plant’s infrastructures and logistics are mostly located, were restored and planted with trees as soon as the site opened. The original ecosystem is on the road to recovery.
- Another part of the quarry is located on higher ground, at more than 300 meters above sea level, so these areas will not be replanted until operations end. The quarry will be remodeled as part of the program. To make slopes gentler and stabilize them against landslides and subsidence, rocks will be destroyed with explosives and the holes filled with mining waste. The soil will then be covered with earth to hold plants that will prevent erosion.
Trees, flowers and other plants are carefully chosen for their usefulness. Some species are used to camouflage facilities; others create shaded areas and protection from the wind. Selected plants also help to keep erosion under control on the edges of rivers and ponds. The choice of plants also depends on the terrain. In the zone containing the access road and entrance, palm trees are used for protection, create shade and reduce the noise from trucks. In lower areas, flowers and fruit trees attract animals such as squirrels, macaques and all kinds of birds. The plan is to plant shrubs and creepers on the rocky, poorer soil in the highest operating areas.
Local villages and schools are closely involved in the operation by contributing plants and flowers and promoting the Garden in the school bulletin. Outdoor study trip to the Garden has also been planned as an extra curricular activity for the youngster.
In order to assess the restoration work, Imerys Minerals Malaysia has adopted a qualitative method. The new ecosystem is examined according to the initial restoration program and measures its success by four criteria: quality of soil, water, flora and fauna. This demanding approach entails constantly checking, monitoring and challenging progress.