The influence of angle and aspect on the established vegetative cover on the slopes of rehabilitated coal discard dumps in Mpumalanga

Bloy, Steven Douglas
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The decommissioning of mines and mining-related activities brings about the onset of rehabilitation. A legacy that most coal mines must address is the rehabilitation of the coal discard dumps that are generated by the beneficiation process of the raw coal. Rehabilitation involves the shaping and covering with a topsoil layer of these coal discard dumps. The topsoil layer is then revegetated to provide a stable form of protection against erosion. Considerations taken into account regarding the rehabilitation of coal discard dumps include the final slope angle, physical constraints i.e. railways or rivers, a source of topsoil and the grass species to be sown. Once the dump has been shaped, capped and seeded, regular applications of fertilizer take place for a defined period of time. This is to accelerate the growth of the grasses, as well as to stabilise the nutrient levels in the topsoil capping. Ingwe Mine Closure Operations (MCO), part of Ingwe Collieries Limited, is the business unit entrusted with the management and successful rehabilitation of Ingwe's defunct operations. All of the coal discard dumps sampled in this study are found on such defunct operations. These coal discard dumps have been rehabilitated to a very high standard by MCO, and in most cases exceed the minimum requirements stipulated by law and guideline documents. This study and the results obtained from it reflect this. This study investigated, in terms of defined types of cover, whether or not there is a statistically significant difference between the: • six coal discard dumps from which data were collected; • five different defined slope aspects; • two groups of slope angles; and • slope angle and slope aspect in terms of cover. The data collected was analysed statistically, so as to determine whether significant differences (95 percentile confidence level), in terms of cover, exist. The purpose of this was to determine whether or not a preferred slope aspect or slope angle group could be identified for the six coal discard dumps sampled. By identifying a preferred slope aspect or slope angle group, companies could alter the design of operational or defunct dumps so as to maximise these. This would make the rehabilitation of the dump more sustainable and could possibly reduce aftercare costs. Through statistical analysis of the data collected it was determined that: • of the six coal discard dumps sampled, significant differences did exist between some of the dumps regarding basal cover, plant litter cover and bare ground. As each dump is different with its own specific micro-climate, this can be expected. The age of the dumps could also have played a role in terms of development; • of the five different defined slope aspects analysed, no significant differences existed between any of them; • of the two groups of slope angles analysed, no significant difference existed between them; and • no relationship between slope angle and slope aspect, in terms of cover, could be established. The analysis of the data collected was done by means of ANOVA one-way tests, coupled with Post Hoc Tests and Contrast Tables. The results of the statistical analysis were evaluated by the STATCON Department of the Rand Afrikaans University for accuracy. The data and the statistical analysis thereof were found to be satisfactory and correct. Various other statistical analyses were conducted on the data, but the results obtained from these tests were all the same as that of the original data analysis. These analyses included the Univariate Analysis of Variance, T-tests and Mann-Whitney tests.
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Document Type: 
Working Paper
Grassland Society of Southern Africa

The Grassland Society of Southern Africa (GSSA) is involved and concerned with the science and practice of range and pasture management. This broad field involves primarily the use and conservation of natural resources. It encompasses applied fields such as livestock production, wildlife management, nature conservation, water catchment management and range and mine-dump rehabilitation. The disciplines include, amongst others, ecology, botany zoology, range and pasture science, animal science, soil science and genetics. This collection includes journal articles from the African Journal of Range and Forage Science as well as related articles and reports from throughout the Southern African region.