Mine rehab on Science Week agenda

 Latrobe Valley mine commissioner professor Rae Mackay helps Erin and Jordan with their project. photograph heidi kraak

Latrobe Valley mine commissioner professor Rae Mackay helps Erin and Jordan with their project. photograph heidi kraak

The Latrobe Valley mine commissioner hosted workshops at Gippsland Tech School last week to increase public understanding of the challenges associated with mine rehabilitation.

The workshops coincided with Science Week and students from across the Latrobe Valley participated in sessions using the school's modern technology.

Mine commissioner professor Rae Mackay said it tended to be "more mature" people who participated in sessions where mine instability and rehabilitation were discussed.

"It would be lovely to see the younger people engaged in this process," he said.

"We set them a challenge to help us to explain to the world what the stability issues were, so floor heave, battering instability, the block sliding.

"They are coming up with ways of explaining these things and presenting them in a variety of formats. Some are working on more physical models, others are working on more virtual models. They are all coming up with a way [of] how do we actually tell the story of what mine instability means and how we might deal with that when we are coming to actually looking at rehabilitated mines."

The commissioner said the sessions were an opportunity for students to understand on a small scale "what nature does at a really large scale".

"There is a really nice piece of work going on where they are using a little container containing bits of geology made of cardboard and other things and they are using air pressure to represent ground water pressure, so when they blow on it they can see the floor heave actually taking place," he said.

"It is a lovely illustration of what actually happens. They are using a gas, but it doesn't matter – it is showing the basic physics."

Gippsland Tech School lead curriculum teacher Daniel Farrant said the sessions were student-led.

"We spent the morning learning about the commissioner's work and causes of mine instability like floor heave, wall collapse and things like that," he said.

"We've got students in and tasked them with building community awareness around the challenges of the mine and rehabilitation and the choices that come along with that. Their goal is to make it more accessible to the community, basically, to make it easier to understand."

Mr Farrant said participating students were given the choice of how they presented the information.

"We've got model making, stop-motion animation to augmented reality. It is great they have all chosen different ways to do that," he said.

"We're not saying 'here is how you have to solve the problem' ... we're saying 'you tell us what you'd like to do'.

"The ideas have been really creative and exciting."

Other sessions were held during the week, including sessions on surveying, 3D drone mapping, batter stabilisation and ecological restoration.

For more information about the work of the Latrobe Valley mine commissioner, visit lvmrc.vic.gov.au. 

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