Wetlands – a Bird’s Paradise at MYTCL

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Many people are confounded when the environmentalist at MYTCL mentions that there are active wetlands on the S&K mine site. And, although it may seem quite absurd to have not only a wetland near an open mine pit, but also to have wildlife flourishing abundantly within the midst of mining operations involving highly reactive sulphates and other contaminants produced by mining activities. It is true that there are very active wetlands in S&K. At MYTCL, these wetlands are parts of our landscape that are defined by the presence of water. More specifically, the S&K wetlands are areas where the presence of water has determined or influenced most, if not all, of the immediate area's biogeochemistry—that is, the biological, physical, and chemical characteristics of this particular site.

Many wetlands are transitional zones between upland and aquatic ecosystems, although others are scattered across the landscape in upland depressions that collect water or in zones where groundwater comes to the surface. The wetlands at S&K are formed in 2 primary zones. The amount of water present in these 2 wetlands can vary greatly. The main S&K Wetlands are permanently flooded, while the other, the Tebinkan Wetlands are only seasonally flooded but retain saturated soils throughout much of the unflooded period. Some areas retain significant amounts of water due to heavy monsoon rains. Still this wetland rarely floods, but saturated soil conditions are present long enough to support wetland-adapted plants and for hydric soil characteristics to develop. Hydric soils develop when chemical changes take place in the soil due to the low-oxygen conditions associated with prolonged saturation.

Different plant communities may be found in the 2 diverse types of wetlands at S&K, with each species adapted to the local hydrology (the quantity, distribution, and movement of water throughout a given area). Wetland plants are often referred to as hydrophytes because they are specially adapted to grow in saturated soils. Many birds, insect, and other wildlife species are completely dependent on these 2 wetlands for critical stages in their life cycles, while many other species make use of the wetlands for feeding, resting, or other life activities. The bird populations explode at certain times of the year, and migratory birds are often found travelling through these 2 wetlands on their way to distant nesting sites.

At this time of the year the resident birds take the opportunity to utilize all of the wetland spaces for nesting, breeding and frolicking in the tepid waters. It is an amazing view to see how sustainable the wetlands are amid the mining activities. This is a very important environmental marker for the S&K environmentalists to maintain as evidence of contained contaminants, and safe underground water management.

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