讲座题目：Managing the co-existence of land use for agriculture and mining – Australian Experience
主讲嘉宾：Prof. Huang Longbin, University of Queensland
讲座时间：2020年1月2日, 周四, 下午15:00-17:00
Longbin Huang is currently a full professor and the Program Leader of Ecological Engineering of Mine Wastes, one of the core programs within Sustainable minerals institute (SMI), The University of Queensland. Prof. Huang has been leading many large industry projects to develop tailings rehabilitation technology, worth more than 15 million dollars funded by Australian government and leading multinational mining companies (such as Glencore, Rio Tinto). His research focuses on developing cutting-edge technologies based on chemical and ecological engineering principles, for sustainable rehabilitation of billions of tons of mine wastes, particularly tailings (e.g., magnetite tailings, bauxite residues (or red mud), Cu/Pb-Zn tailings). His research impacts aim to improve the sustainability of mining and mineral extraction industry through alleviating/minimizing/preventing long-term environmental damages to ecological and agricultural land uses. Longbin graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Agronomy (Double major: Soil Science & Plant Physiology), PhD in Plant Environmental Physiology, with more than 25 years of experience in soil-plant relations and tailings rehabilitation.
Insatiable demands for minerals and metals for industrialization and urbanization have fuelled rapid expansion of global mining activities, across geographical zones overlapping large areas of agricultural landscapes worldwide. Particularly, the mining boom in the last 20 years have increased acquisition and total destruction of cropping and pasture lands for mining minerals (such as coal, coal seam gas) in the eastern seaboard of Australia, such as New South Wales and Queensland. This has unfortunately occurred right within lands possessing economic land use activities and potentials (such as pasture and cropping), leading to direct loss of hundreds of thousands of ha of land historically farmed for grain/fibre/protein by family farmers. The loss of agricultural productivity of neighbouring land adjoining coal mined areas have resulted from the destruction of aquifer connectivity and rainwater recharge. Coal mining has caused the largest impact on agricultural land use, in terms of the land area affected.
Base metal mining (e.g., Al, Cu, Pb, Zn) and mineral processing (e.g., alumina refinery) have mostly occurred in non-cropping lands and/or extensive pasture land (e.g., Central-North Queensland, North West Queensland), but which have natural conservation values and ecosystem services. The impacted footprints from mining base metals tends to be much smaller than coal mining and mostly not located in economic agriculture regions, but their potential pollution effects via water-/air-borne dispersion of metal(loid)s could affect downstream catchments and the quality of agricultural and horticultural produce in the catchment areas.
Increasing concerns of rural communities about the loss of family farms and farming heritage have backlashed onto governments and politicians who are facing delicate persuasions and balances when making decisions on mining permits. The present talk will use cases of land use conflicts between agriculture and coal/coal seam gas extraction, for discussions about the conflicts of short-term vs long-term economic value chains of designated land use, benefits of single generation of corporate (off land) vs multi-generations of local rural communities (on land), and mining legacy vs farming legacy. From here, we may ask what kind of roles research communities and governments could play to alleviate and manage the long-term mining legacy impacts on future security of food, fibre, and protein productions for growing populations in Australia.