Mining and pastoralism are both important land uses in Australia. Across the 8 million km2 of Australia 57% or 430,100,800 ha is grazed by livestock, with cattle grazing the dominant land use in northern Australia. Cattle grazing is a common post mining land use in northern Australia and therefore rehabilitated mine sites need to be resilient to cattle grazing.
Grazing sometimes benefits rehabilitation by incorporating organic matter into the developing soil and assisting weed management, but can also be detrimental, for example by triggering erosion. The effects of grazing on mine site rehabilitation in Northern Territory savanna is not known. This PhD research is investigating how cattle are detrimental or beneficial to native vegetation how cattle affect soil attributes, vegetation structure, vegetation composition, plant propagules and weed status.
The assessment will be conducted by an intensive experimental study at one mine site and a survey of ecological characteristics across multiple mine sites. The experimental study will be carried out at the Moline mine site and the survey study will be across multiple Crocodile Gold Australia Operations mine sites. Understanding these processes is necessary to assess the long term sustainability of rehabilitation areas.
The possibility of using cattle as part of the management solution for mine rehabilitation and better understanding the impacts and resilience to cattle will increase ability to manage cattle grazing as an end land use after mining.