EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Restoration monitoring of rare earth element (REE) mines in southern Jiangxi, China

Lifeng Xie1, Weicheng Wu1, Xiaolan Huang1, Penghui Ou1, Ziyu Lin1, Yong Song2, Zhiling Wang2, Tao Lang2, Wenchao Huangfu1, Yang Zhang1, Xiaoting Zhou1, Xiao Fu1, Jie Li1, Jingheng Jiang1, Ming Zhang1, Zhenjiang Zhang1, Yaozu Qin1, Shanling Peng1, and Chongjian Shao1
Lifeng Xie et al.
  • 1Key Laboratory of Digital Lands and Resources and Faculty of Earth Sciences, East China University of Technology, Nanchang, China (
  • 264 Brigade of the Jiangxi Nuclear Industry Geological Bureau, Ganzhou, China

Rare earth elements (REE) mines have an extremely high strategic value, especially, in national aerospace industry and military fields. The long-term open mining and extraction processing of REE in the weathered crust since 1970s have led to serious land degradation, e.g., vegetation degradation, soil loss, reduction of soil fertility, and especially, environmental pollution to subsoil and groundwater. Taking southern Jiangxi, where ion-type of REE mines are mainly located, as an instance, the total mining area is measured about 79 km2 from 1291 mines, of which 56 km2  have been or are being managed with restoration measures identified by comparison between multitemporal very high resolution images available on Google Earth. Visual interpretation revealed that large-scale mining activities occurred after 2000 and restoration management was not intervened until 2010, in particular, 2013. As implemented by different enterprises or companies, post-mining restoration has a strong spatial variability in both management approaches and effectiveness from mine to mine. Up to today, no systematic monitoring and assessment have been conducted for this restoration intervention. It is, therefore, the objective of our study to evaluate the effectiveness of such restoration efforts using multitemporal October Landsat data with scene path/row number of 121/42-121/43 from 2000 to 2017. Eight managed and seven unmanaged typical mines were selected for a comparative analysis and restoration assessment.

After atmospheric correction using COST model, NDVI and GDVI (Generalized Difference Vegetation Index) that is more suitable for low vegetation, as proxy of vegetation vigor and biomass production, were derived from all satellites images. The mean NDVI and GDVI values of each selected mine were calculated. The results show that NDVI of the managed REE mines has been increasing from 0.32 to 0.67 and GDVI from 0.55 to 0.90 year by year since 2010, indicating a vegetation recovery, especially, for those with effective management. In contrast, in the unmanaged mines, NDVI values remain low ranging from 0.20 to 0.40, and GDVI from 0.22 to 0.60, implying that the damaged vegetation cover caused by open mining and pollution has low capacity to recover without human intervention, where continue serious water loss and soil erosion. We also noted in some managed areas that planted grasses have survived but trees died or are dying probably because of the residual pollution in subsoil. This means a holistic management should be implemented in both surface, subsoil and groundwater, and monitoring be conducted by remote sensing in combination with soil sampling. This will be our next task of research.


How to cite: Xie, L., Wu, W., Huang, X., Ou, P., Lin, Z., Song, Y., Wang, Z., Lang, T., Huangfu, W., Zhang, Y., Zhou, X., Fu, X., Li, J., Jiang, J., Zhang, M., Zhang, Z., Qin, Y., Peng, S., and Shao, C.: Restoration monitoring of rare earth element (REE) mines in southern Jiangxi, China, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-8255,, 2020

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