Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Sand Mining at Stradbroke

Today we went to one of the sand mines on Stradbroke - there are numerous sites on the island, because this island is entirely composed of sand. There's a small section of bedrock in the northeastern corner, but the rest of the island consists of accumulated layers of sand and vegetation on top. We visited the CRL mining site on the North side of the island and got to wear some awesome vests:

We learned about their revegetation practices, which are actually very impressive. I was pretty depressed when I visited the mines in Salt Lake City, Utah, but the companies here do a much better job of leaving the land pretty much as they found it. They do surveys before they start mining, remove the topsoil and use it immediately on other revegetation sites, and then replace all the sand when they've removed the 1% of mine-able materials, so its basically 100% replaced (so says the tour guide, anyways). And they replant native species and monitor them for about 10 years to make sure that insects and fauna come back. It's pretty impressive - certainly not perfect, but we saw a 10 year old re-veg site and it looked GREAT, you couldn't tell that it had been cleared to the ground only 10 years before.

Untouched sand dunes exist naturally, too:

The mined materials:

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