We restore the usefulness and natural character of post-mining areas in order to recreate their previous environmental features or shape new ones. The effects of the performed rehabilitation works contribute first of all to the improvement of the quality of basic environmental components, i.e. air, water and soil. Fugitive emissions of dust from the waste rock dump decrease in parallel to the growth of the afforested areas.
The types (forest, water, agricultural, municipal, industrial) and methods of rehabilitation must be in line with the local land development plan. Another important element is properly selected technical solutions and the quality of work to be performed. The deadline for completing rehabilitation works is also significant.
The post-mining areas of the Bełchatów Lignite Mine are being rehabilitated primarily as forest land. It can be provisionally estimated that about 5,500 ha (including protective strips of land around water reservoirs) will be eventually made available for afforestation purposes.
The total area of 2,296 ha was rehabilitated from the beginning of the project until the end of 2020. So far, the Bełchatów Lignite Mine has handed over more than 1,500 hectares of rehabilitated and afforested land to the State Forests.
Mount Kamieńsk is a flagship example of comprehensive land rehabilitation activities conducted by PGE Górnictwo i Energetyka Konwencjonalna. At 395 m above sea level, it is the highest hill in central Poland. It was formed from 1,354 billion m3 of overburden taken off in the process of stripping successive layers of lignite. At present, it is one of the main tourist attractions in central Poland. A ski lift, hiking and cycling routes and a 620-metre long sledge run make Mount Kamieńsk an important point on the map of summer and winter sports enthusiasts.
The company also completed the formation of a second dump, this time at the Szczerców Field. This process took 17 years and resulted in the creation of a “twin” Mount Kamieńsk. The dump was formed from almost 1 billion m3 of overburden covering lignite deposits. Currently, the mountain has a surface area of 1114 ha and a relative height of approximately 170 m. By the end of 2020, more than 4 million trees had been planted on the mountain as part of the rehabilitation process, thus ensuring the area’s biodiversity. The rehabilitation of the dump aims at its afforestation, taking into account the recreational function based on forests, cycle paths, a golf course, autodrome, hippodrome and a ski slope. A photovoltaic farm will also be built at the top of the mountain.
In the case of the Turów Lignite Mine, the rehabilitation of the external waste rock dump, which has been carried out since the 1960s, is aimed at the afforestation of the area. The rehabilitated external dump of the Turów Lignite Mine Branch is a forest complex with the surface area of over 21 km2, which, apart from possessing attractive landscape features, constitutes an invaluable oxygen generating area of the Bogatynia commune. It is also a diverse natural environment where habitats and ecological corridors are created.
Land rehabilitation activities are also carried out by the company PGE Energia Ciepła. After the termination of operations at a given landfill, the landfill is formally closed and subsequently undergoes the process of green rehabilitation. Vegetation is introduced, grass covers are made and trees are planted. Where possible, measures are planned to restore the economic functions of particular areas.
In the case of PGE Energia Odnawialna, the technological processes, operation of equipment and current investment projects do not cause interference with the biodiversity of protected areas. The green areas in the possession of the company are maintained by dedicated maintenance teams. There are also Special Areas of Conservation Nature 2000 in the vicinity of the company’s facilities. PGE Energia Odnawialna participates in the costs of restocking rivers and lakes with fish in accordance with the provisions of water permits, and constructed fish ladders enable unimpeded fish migration.