University of Oulu

Konieczna-Fuławka, M.; Szumny, M.; Fuławka, K.; Jaśkiewicz-Proć, I.; Pactwa, K.; Kozłowska-Woszczycka, A.; Joutsenvaara, J.; Aro, P. Challenges Related to the Transformation of Post-Mining Underground Workings into Underground Laboratories. Sustainability 2023, 15, 10274.

Challenges related to the transformation of post-mining underground workings into underground laboratories

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Author: Konieczna-Fuławka, Martyna1; Szumny, Marcin2; Fuławka, Krzysztof2;
Organizations: 1Faculty of Geoengineering, Mining and Geology, Wrocław University of Science and Technology, 15 Na Grobli Street, 50-421 Wrocław, Poland
2KGHM Cuprum Ltd. Research & Development Centre, 2-8 Sikorskiego Street, 53-659 Wrocław, Poland
3Kerttu Saalasti Institute, University of Oulu, 90014 Oulu, Finland
4School of Business and Information Management, Oulu University of Applied Sciences, Business, Yliopistonkatu 9, 90570 Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 3 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 2023
Publish Date: 2023-08-25


Underground mines are a vital part of the European raw material industry. The subsurface mining process is related to the large-scale development of underground structures like tunnels, chambers, workings, etc. These structures are abandoned or liquidated during the process of exploitation or after the termination of works. Still, due to the unique environment, post-mining facilities may be adopted for different purposes. There are few examples of implementations of this capacity in practical terms such as underground laboratories (ULs), energy storages, landfills of dangerous wastes, or food production plants. Unfortunately, the unique environment offered by underground space is also related to the occurrence of exceptional hazards, like seismicity and ground control problems, gases, floods, the lack of natural ventilation, and high temperatures. This results in low interest in investing in such facilities. Within this paper, some ways to repurpose underground mines have been presented, and possible challenges that need to be faced have been described. An extensive database of threats to post-mining repurposing and ways to mitigate them has been prepared based on surveys and interviews conducted with representatives of currently existing Uls and mining companies and a literature review. Finally, this manuscript provides a general look at post-mining infrastructure in Europe’s current situation and in the future.

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Series: Sustainability
ISSN: 2071-1050
ISSN-E: 2071-1050
ISSN-L: 2071-1050
Volume: 15
Issue: 13
Article number: 10274
DOI: 10.3390/su151310274
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 519 Social and economic geography
218 Environmental engineering
Funding: This research was funded by European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), grant number Interreg Baltic Sea Region #X010 EUL project and number Interreg Baltic Sea Region #R2.073 BSUIN project. The research was also cofounded with the research subsidy from the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education granted for 2023 for WUST.
Dataset Reference: All data presented herein in an extended version will be freely accessible at the webpage of the European Underground Laboratories Association: (accessed on 1 November 2022).
Copyright information: © 2023 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (