Richard Herrington – Development of a site-specific system for rehabilitation of legacy mines: The intersections of social, technical, and environmental data (Bio+Mine project Philippines)



Dennis Alonzo1, Irish Mae Dalona2, Robin Armstrong3, Yves Plancherel4, Mylah Villacorte-Tabelin5, Carlito Baltazar Tabelin6, Arnel Beltran7, Aileen Orbecido7, Pablo Brito-Parada4, Ana Santos3, Anne D. Jungblut3, Vannie Joy Resabal6, Michael Angelo Promentilla7, and Richard Herrington3

1School of Education, University of New South Wales Sydney, Australia

2 English Department, Mindanao State University – Iligan Institute of Technology, Philippines

3Natural History Museum, London, UK

4Department of Earth Science and Engineering, Imperial College London, UK

5Department of Biological Sciences, CSM and PRISM, Mindanao State University – Iligan Institute of Technology, Philippines

6Department of Materials and Resources Engineering Technology, College of Engineering, Mindanao State University – Iligan Institute of Technology, Philippines

7Department of Chemical Engineering, De La Salle University, Manila Philippines


Successful rehabilitation of legacy mines continues to be challenging due to tension between legal requirements, current practices, and host communities’ aspirations. Previous rehabilitation efforts have often been focused on purely technical and environmental aspects, leading to a narrow focus of interventions that usually create resistance from the host community and, thus, are often unsustainable. To address the issues associated with legacy mines and the lack of community engagement, we have developed the Biodiversity Positive Mining for The Net Zero Challenge (Bio+Mine) project, funded by DEFRA in the UK through its Global Centre on Biodiversity for Climate programme. The project focuses on the abandoned Sto. Niño copper mine (Tublay, Benguet, Philippines) which closed in 1981and since then has been reclaimed by people for agricultural purposes, more than 90% of whom are Indigenous Peoples (IPs). Extended family groups have established agricultural enterprises on unremediated mine waste dumps and a tailings storage. Crops grown range from the cultivation of cut-flowers, small-scale animal husbandry, and fruit and vegetable production with varying degrees of success. Before undertaking collection of both geo and bio samples for analysis, our Social Science Team embarked on an extensive community engagement program to secure permits from the local inhabitants of Sto. Niño and the associated administrative and regulatory units. The relationships and trust built in this process resulted in a wealth of historical data about the evolution of the post-mining landscape and the community’s social structure, which enabled us to better target our baseline sampling campaign. A key aspect of our work has been to develop a pragmatic approach using a mixed methodology to understand the host communities’ relationship to the site and their needs and aspirations for the future.


Richard currently leads a major new research theme at the Natural History Museum (NHM), London focused on resourcing a green economy. This theme brings together both earth and life scientists to look at holistic, nature-inspired solutions to the challenges of delivering the resources needed for the net-zero challenge, whilst remaining nature positive. With a long career in research focused on discovery and recovery of metals and minerals, he has an extensive publication record and is regularly called upon to consult for industry. He recently stepped down as Head of Earth Sciences at the NHM and is currently a councillor for the Society of Economic Geologists, is a member of the UK Government’s Critical Minerals Expert Committee and an advisor to the UK’s newly launched Critical Minerals Intelligence Centre.