The 2nd MIREU SLO Workshop with the theme ‘SLO and Regional Development Perspectives’ took place in Leoben, Austria on 24-25 October 2018. This workshop was the second in a series of stakeholder workshops organised in the MIREU project. The main objective of this workshop was to explore the linkages between social license to operate (SLO) and regional development.
The second day of the workshop was concluded with four parallel breakout sessions on topics related to specific regional questions. One of these topics was ‘Mine Closure and Tourism’, which refers to the potential of post-mining areas for tourism development.
Post-mining areas often offer huge potential for tourism development. The tourism industry is experiencing a stable, moderate growth despite periods of economic downturn. Industrial tourism has boomed in recent years and the number of post-mining sites on the UNESCO list is constantly increasing. These facts make us think about post-mining areas in the context of tourism. However, it is important to remember that appropriate reclamation must be done and that the selected industrial heritage - infrastructure, geological phenomena, new landscape, biodiversity and tradition, should be protected. Post-mining tourism can thus help gaining social acceptance for mining activities.
The discussion in this breakout session focused on the enabling factors and conditions and the barriers for post-mining tourism, as well as how post-mining tourism links and contributes to SLO and to the regional development.
Some of the enabling factors discussed amongst the participants are the uniqueness of post-mining sites, such as the landscapes, the traditions and the possibility to present mining methods. The presence of a tourism industry in the region, which can be supplemented with new attractions, also help enabling post-mining tourism as well as a research institution which can develop a tourist project in the post-mining area. It is also beneficial if the land use documents contain the relevant provisions for such a project and that the post-mining area fulfils all safety conditions. Barriers for the development of post-mining tourism could according to the participants constitute of a lack of resources or political will to develop a post-mining area into a tourist attraction; unregulated ownership of the post-mining area; occurrence of prospective mineral deposits near the post-mining area; or a lack of acceptance from the local community for tourism development.
How can post-mining tourism then contribute to SLO? The participants found that post-mining tourism can help improving the image of mining activities and can contribute to people’s understanding of the life cycle of a mine. Land reclamation in mining areas also build legitimacy and social trust. Post-mining tourism also contributes to the regional development, as tourism can bring long-term revenues to the region together with jobs and livelihood. The regional identity can also be strengthened, and the increased tourism may diversify local businesses and make them more resilient. The region can also benefit from selling know-how and innovation in the scope of reclamation.
Picture: A post-mining site in the village of Bobrowisko in Poland, which was used for sand and gravel extraction, was reclaimed and covered by natural succession and has recently been transformed into a tourist attraction. The architects are 55Architekci.