British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

Environmental, social, and economic benefits of biochar application for land reclamation purposes Petelina, Elizaveta; Sanscartier, David; MacWilliam, Susan; Ridsdale, Reanne 2014

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ENVIRONMENTAL, SOCIAL, AND ECONOMIC BENEFITS OF BIOCHAR APPLICATION FOR LAND RECLAMATION PURPOSES   Elizaveta Petelina, B.Sc., MSEM1 David Sanscartier, PhD, P.Eng.2 Susan MacWilliam, B.Sc.3 Reanne Ridsdale, M.Sc. candidate4  1Remediation Specialist 2Research Engineer 3Life Cycle Assessment Analyst Saskatchewan Research Council, Saskatoon, Canada  4M.A. candidate, Department of Geography & Planning University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada   ABSTRACT    Biochar is a solid material produced by pyrolysis of biomass, which was shown to improve soil properties. On the other hand, there are a number of risks and uncertainties associated with its use in land reclamation.   This case study is aimed to assess environmental, social, and economical benefits and limitations of biochar use for revegetation projects in northern Saskatchewan. Four revegetation options were examined, i.e. natural restoration, revegetation with peat application, and revegetation with application of commercially or locally produced biochar. The assessment methods included option screening by the expert panel, stakeholder opinion survey, and quantitative assessment (i.e. screening life cycle assessment and life cycle costing analysis).  The study results suggest that biochar provides a number of environmental benefits and its on-site production can also provide social benefits and economic opportunities. On the other hand, biochar production and application is expensive and associated with technical risks, which can undermine overall project success. Nevertheless, positive trends in biochar production industry suggest that in the near future this material may serve as an affordable and technically reliable alternative to conventional soil amendments for land reclamation.         KEY WORDS 	Revegetation, Multi Criteria Decision Analysis, option screening, life cycle assessment, life cycle costing analysis, soil amendment   INTRODUCTION  Biochar is a solid material obtained from any biomass (e.g. wood, organic wastes) through pyrolysis. It has been shown that adding biochar to the soil can improve its biological, chemical and physical properties and consequently increase its fertility (Lehman and Joseph 2009; Verheijen et al. 2009). In addition, biochar can be produced on-site using local labor and feedstock (e.g. waste wood), which may reduce reclamation cost, create local jobs, and improve waste management. On the other hand, biochar use as a soil amendment may face challenges, such as occupational risks (e.g. dust exposure or fire hazards) associated with its production, transportation, and storage, high cost, limited commercial availability, and lack of standardization of this product.  (Lehman and Joseph 2009; Verheijen et al. 2009; Petelina et al., 2013). With all the above, overall sustainability of using biochar as a soil amendment for land reclamation purposes is still questioned. This research is to get a better understanding of biochar benefits and limitations and to assess environmental, social, and economic aspects of biochar use in revegetation. The Gunnar Site Remediation Project (the Gunnar Project) managed by Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC) was selected as a case study for this research.    The Gunnar Project is aimed to clean-up an abandoned uranium mine site in northern Saskatchewan. The site includes unconfined uranium tailings, which gamma radiation exceeds acceptable levels and thus poses a risk to human health and environment. To reduce gamma radiation to acceptable levels and decrease contaminant loading to the environment, some 1 m engineered vegetative cover is to be installed on the top of the tailing deposits (SRC, 2014). The tailings engineer cover is to be constructed using borrow material, which is mostly composed of mineral silt and sand and almost devoid of organic matter and nutrients. The vegetation cover is to be formed by a grass-legume community with 60-80% ground cover. This plant community shall be self-sustaining and perform a number of ecosystem functions, such as impeding water infiltration into the buried tailings, provision of erosion control, prevention of establishment of prohibited weeds, exotic species, and deep rooting vegetation (i.e. trees and shrubs, which can facilitate contaminant transport to the soil surface). Under Gunnar conditions, achieving the above goals may require different time and effort depending on a revegetation approach; therefore, a thorough consideration of potential revegetation options is essential for the project success.   Four options were proposed for the Gunnar tailings revegetation as follows:  Option 1 (Natural Restoration) suggested a passive restoration approach, i.e. creating favorable conditions for native recovery of the site. Wind erosion was found to be a main concern at the site, which could significantly impede plant establishment (SRC, 2013; Petelina, 2014). Therefore, wind controls (e.g., wind breakers) can both protect engineered covers from blowing and create conditions favorable for natural vegetation recovery. Due to harsh environmental conditions and poor growing media, it may take a few decades to reach revegetation goals. As natural recovery is driven not only by native herbaceous species, but also woody species and exotic species, tree suppression and active weed management will be required until a dense herbaceous cover is developed. Thus, this option included installation of wind breaks and site natural recovery accompanied with tree suppression and active weed management.  Option 2 (Peat) suggested a conventional, proactive revegetation methodology including soil amended with peat (added to achieve 2% of the organic matter in the soil) followed by fertilizer application and native plant seeding. Results of SRC field trials at Gunnar showed that with this approach the revegetation goals could be achieved within two or three years (Petelina, 2013b).   Option 3 (Commercial Biochar) was similar to Option 2, with the only difference that peat was substituted by biochar obtained from a commercial supplier. It was assumed that biochar was very similar to peat in its ability to promote plant growth, so all other features of Option 3 are the same as Option 2.   Option 4 (Local Biochar) was similar to Option 3, but biochar was assumed to be produced with a mobile unit installed on-site utilizing local wood wastes as feedstock. Rough estimation of wood wastes from remediation activities showed that there would be enough wood wastes to produce sufficient amount of biochar. The other features of Option 4 are the same as Option 3.  The assessment of environmental, social, and economical benefits of the above revegetation options was completed through the following stages:  Stage 1 – Expert Panel Review to identify the most preferred option on basis of available information  Stage 2 – Stakeholder Opinion Survey to study stakeholders’ preferences for revegetation approach  Stage 3 – Quantitative Assessment of environmental impacts and revegetation cost through screening life cycle assessment and life cycle costing analysis   The overall approach is based on the NICOLE’s and SURF-UK sustainable remediation decision-support and sustainability appraisal frameworks (NICOLE, 2010; SURF-UK, 2010). More details on each stage are provided in corresponding sections. Each section presents methodological details, as well as results and discussion for individual stage.  OPTION SCREENING BY EXPERT PANEL   Methods  SRC appointed an internal expert panel to screen the proposed revegetation options and identify a viable revegetation option with an optimal balance between benefits for environment, society, and economy. The panel included two engineers experienced in assessment of sustainability aspects, a socio-economic specialist, and a revegetation specialist. The team composition ensured a balance of technical, environmental, social, and economic expertise during the option screening.   The panel reviewed documents related to the Gunnar Project (including technical and socio-economic data, as well as public concerns), biochar and peat production and use, and site restoration techniques (including their perception by public) and also carried out interviews with interested parties (e.g. Gunnar Project management team, pyrolysis engineers, biochar producers, environmental consultants, representatives of local shipping companies). The collected data were used to identify benefits and limitations for each option. Upon discussion of option benefits and limitations each option was screened through a set of environmental, social, and economic criteria (Table 1). The criteria were developed on basis of sustainability criteria used for assessment of environmental, social, and economic benefits (Becker and Vanclay, 2003). For screening, the expert panel used a four level scoring system with the highest score of four (4) assigned to the most desirable benefit and the lowest score of one (1) assigned to the least desirable impact. First, all the options were rated against each criterion, then each option was ranked in relation to environmental, social, or economic aspect, and finally the most preferred option was identified. This approach allowed to select the most preferred option and identify trade-offs associated with each option.  Results  In general, the panel review provided the following summary of benefits and limitations for each option:  Option 1 (Natural Restoration): in spite of some benefits (i.e. low cost, low occupational risks, low emissions), this option required a long time to achieve the project goals and had long-term risks, which could also have negative impact on local ecosystems and project perception by local communities.  Option 2 (Peat): this option was more costly and complicated than Option 1, yet more reliable and allowed achievement of the desired results within a shorter period of time.  Option 3 (Commercial Biochar): this option was more costly than the previous two and was also associated with significant challenges and numerous uncertainties. On the other hand, successful completion of this project would not only have a positive impact on local ecosystems and project perception by local communities, but also would create a precedent for biochar use in large scale land reclamation.   Option 4 (Local Biochar): this option might be more cost effective than Options 2 (Peat) and 3 (Commercial Biochar), but bears significant challenges, risks, and uncertainties. In addition, successful completion of the project would not only have a positive impact on local ecosystems and project perception by local communities, but also create a precedent for alternative approaches to land reclamation providing long term opportunities for local communities.   Results of option screening against environmental, social, and economic criteria (Table 1) showed that both Option 1 (Natural Restoration) and Option 3 (Commercial Biochar) provided the least preferred approaches, while Option 4 (Local Biochar) was the most preferred option. However, biochar production and application for Option 4 was less proven than peat harvesting and application, and thus had an increased risk of failure. As such, Option 2 (Peat) could be considered a more practical solution, though opportunities for economic development and community involvement would be lost.   It should be noted that the panel review approach had limitations, such as lack of stakeholder participation in review, no criteria prioritization, the qualitative nature of the method used, and limited data for assessment of some criteria (e.g. cost). These factors affected the results of the assessment; therefore, it was decided to carry out multi-criteria decision analysis, which includes increased involvement of stakeholders and criteria prioritization based on stakeholders’ values and needs.   STAKEHOLDER OPINION SURVEY  Methods  Stakeholder opinion was studied using multiple criteria decision analysis (MCDA) approach which is often used to examine a variety of options against a wide range of environmental, social, and economic criteria  (e.g., White and Noble, 2013). The MCDA was carried out by evaluating the four revegetation options based on nine sustainability evaluation criteria (Table 2), selected from the 20 criteria (i.e., criteria listed in Table 1). Selection was made by the expert panel based on the criteria perceived relative importance. Table 1. Results of option screening against environmental, social, and economic criteria   Criterion Option 1:  Natural Restoration1 Option 2: Revegetation with Peat1 Option 3: Revegetation with Commercial Biochar1 Option 4: Revegetation with Local Biochar1 Environmental Biodiversity Footprint (abundance and diversity of native wildlife and plants at local and regional level) 2 3 2 3 Air Quality (emissions from combustion engines (e.g. trucks, tractors, or bio-char mobile unit), as well as noise and dust pollution) 3 2 2 2 Energy Consumption (consumption of energy or power for the option implementation (including consideration of non-renewable energy versus renewable energy)) 3 2 2 2 Greenhouse Gases (greenhouse gases emissions from use of fossil fuel and use of fertilizers) 3 2 1 2 Carbon Sinks (carbon storage opportunities to decrease amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere) 2 2 3 3 Waste Generation (amount of wastes to be produced during a revegetation option implementation) 2 3 3 3 Environmental Benefits Overall Outcome the most preferred optionthe second-preferred optionthe least preferred optionthe most preferred optionSocial Occupational Risks (risks associated with carrying out the project) 2 2 2 3 Site Aesthetic (time required for desired vegetation cover establishment) 2 4 3 3 Land Use (benefits that the reclaimed land can provide to the community members both locally and regionally) 2 4 3 3 Public Safety (meeting the reclamation goals in terms of the public safety) 1 4 3 3 Community Perception (perception of the revegetation results by the community) 2 3 3 4 Community Involvement (opportunities for local communities to benefit from the project) 2 3 3 4 Social Benefits Overall Outcome the least preferred optionthe second-preferred optionless preferred  option the most preferred optionEconomic Project cost (investments in the revegetation option implementation) 3 1 1 2 Project risks (likelihood for successfully meeting the project goals, which will reduce risk of additional investments in the project) 1 4 3 2 Economic Opportunities (future economic opportunities which can raise from a proposed option implementation including both for local community and Province) 1 2 3 3 Province Revenue (provincial tax revenue due to increased economic activities) 2 3 3 2 Job Opportunities (creation of job opportunities for local communities) 2 2 2 3 Job Diversity (creation of different job opportunities for local communities) 2 2 2 3 Technical Feasibility (reliability of proposed technology and availability of corresponding resources) 4 4 3 2 Economic Benefits Overall Outcome the least preferred optionthe most preferred optionthe second-preferred optionthe second-preferred optionNote: 1 4 - the most desirable benefit and 1 - the least desirable impact As the study was run as an internal SRC project, the survey participants were selected from SRC employees not directly involved in the project. The selected employees acted as stakeholders and reflected different perspectives of five interested parties: aboriginal communities (a local employee from a northern Saskatchewan community), project operator (Business Unit Manager), environmental consultants (Distinguished Scientist, expert in forest ecosystems), technical specialists (Research Engineer, expert in biochar production), and a finance specialist (Financial Analyst). Prior to participating in the survey, stakeholders were provided with supportive documentation outlining the project objectives, the four revegetation options, and the survey methodology.   Expert Choice, a web-based MCDA software, was used for the data collection and processing. Expert Choice was developed on basis of an analytical hierarchy process, which allowed to prioritize multiple criterions with different project options and get accurate results even when complex sustainability issues were under consideration (White and Noble, 2012; Hreljac, 2013). The pairwise comparison method was applied for this survey. First, stakeholders were asked to compare the sustainability criteria one against the other. Results from this comparison were used for factors weighing to be used for the determination of the preferred revegetation options. Then, stakeholders were asked to compare the revegetation options one against the other for all nine evaluation criteria. Expert Choice automatically processed the survey data and generated results.   Results  Table 2 provides the results of criterion weighting, option ranking against each criteria, and overall outcome from the stakeholder survey. Greenhouse gases, biodiversity, and project risks were top three criteria indicated by stakeholders as the most important ones (their weighting factor was 19, 16, and 15%, respectively). All social criteria (i.e. occupational risks, community involvement, and land use) received the lowest weighting score (4, 6, and 6%, respectively), which could be explained by low representation of local communities among the survey participants (i.e. only one of five participants represented local community interests).   In general, the results of stakeholder survey were in line with the panel review results, i.e.  Option 4 (Local Biochar) was selected by stakeholders as the preferred option.  Option 1 (Natural Restoration) and Option 3 (Commercial Biochar) were identified as the least desirable options, which also support the validity of the panel review outcome. On the other hand, the results of option ranking against specific criteria by stakeholders in some cases differed from the expert panel ratings. For example, stakeholders indicated Option 4 as the preferred option in relation to project risks, but the expert panel assigned quite a low scoring for this option against project risks criteria (score of 2 – Table 1). This discrepancy between Stage 1 and Stage 2 results was likely due to unequal amount of information provided to the expert panel and stakeholders. It should be noted that upon survey completion some participants indicated that they did not have enough information to make meaningful choices during pairwise option comparisons.  For example, they would have liked to get more information on overall option cost estimates and estimates of greenhouse gas emissions, which was in line with data gaps indicated by the expert panel. Thus, it was decided to carry out quantitative analysis of revegetation options as discussed in the next section.  Table 2. Results of the multiple criteria decision analysis of stakeholder opinion survey   Criterion Weighting Factor  (%) Option 1: Natural Restoration1 Option 2: Revegetation with Peat1 Option 3: Revegetation with Commercial Biochar1 Option 4: Revegetation with Local Biochar1 Environmental: Biodiversity  16 27 89 100 85 Environmental: Air Quality  12 100 46 42 39 Environmental: Greenhouse Gases 19 100 66 69 97 Social: Occupational Risks 4 100 78 63 67 Social: Community Involvement  6 25 25 19 100 Social: Land Use 6 24 100 50 89 Economic: Project cost 11 100 64 20 59 Economic: Project risks 15 25 98 77 100 Economic: Economic Opportunities 11 18 23 30 100 Overall Stakeholder’s Opinion n/a 72 81 70 100 Note: 1 Results are presented as a percent of the maximum score, i.e. the highest choice was given 100%, and the following choices were valued relatively to the maximum score.  QUANTITATIVE ASSESSMENTS  Methods  Quantitative assessment included screening Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) and Life Cycle Costing (LCC) analysis. LCA is a method of examining the potential environmental effects of a product or process across its life span. LCC is employed to examine the cradle-to-grave cost of products, processes or systems. Due to budget and timing constraints, LCA and LCC screening studies were conducted for only Option 2 (Peat), Option 3 (Commercial Biochar), and Option 4 (Local Biochar). Screening studies were limited in scope and detail when compared to full-scale analyses and were intended to provide information for use internally to an organization, or to direct future research. The functional unit of analysis was 40-60% vegetation cover and less than 60% bare ground of the largest Gunnar tailing (53 ha) within three years of initiating revegetation activities. Amount of peat and biochar required for reaching the revegetation goal was assessed on basis of SRC revegetation trials and equaled to 8,480 and 5,300 tonnes, respectively (Petelina, 2013).   Only readily available data were used in screening studies. The data were selected to be as specific as possible to the case study, but constraints required the use of several assumptions. The following main activities were considered: acquiring/producing organic soil amendment, application of organic soil amendment, and transport of personnel and materials. Shipment estimation of commercial materials and equipment was based on delivery of the materials from Saskatoon to the Gunnar Mine Site. It was decided to assess only relative impact or cost of the options, so activities similar between the revegetation options (e.g. seeding and fertilizing) were excluded from LCA and LCC analysis on the that these activities are associated with similar impacts. In other words, only the environmental and economic effects different between the options were considered.   Assessment of  biochar production slow pyrolysis systems (i.e. commercial and mobile) were based on a LCA study examining the energetic, economic, and climate change potential of biochar from corn stover (Roberts et al., 2010). The biochar product yield was 30%, with the remaining products in the forms of oil and gas. The oil and gas products were combusted to generate energy for use elsewhere in the commercial facility (i.e. for producing products other than biochar), thus offsetting a portion of the facility’s natural gas requirements. In the mobile unit, the syngas product was combusted and released to the atmosphere as it could not be successfully used in other operations. The capacity of the mobile pyrolysis unit was 50 dry tonnes of feedstock per day. The feedstock would be transported to the pyrolysis unit (approximately 5 km) where it would be grinded prior to producessing into biochar. It was assumed that biochar production would only occur during the six warm months of the year (from mid-April to mid-October), due to harsh winter conditions in Northern Saskatchewan. It was assumed that SRC would purchase and operate the mobile unit. Upon revegetation completion, the mobile unit would be used for other projects.  For the LCA, peat, biochar, diesel, propane, and woody biomass were the material inputs. While electricity and energy required for production and transportation of the material inputs, as well as energy required for revegetation implementation were the energy inputs.  LCA outputs comprised revegetated land and emissions to air, soil, and water. SimaPro (version 7.3.2, Pré) LCA modeling software was used for the analysis. The IMPACT 2002+ midpoint method was employed (Jolliet et al., 2003). The following five environmental metrics were examined:   Respiratory inorganics (kg PM2.5-eq) – air pollutants such as sulphur oxides and volatile organic compounds  Terrestrial acidification (kg SO2-eq) – potential proton and/or chemical nutrient release to soil  Global Warming (kg CO2-eq) – potential greenhouse gases emitted over the course of the system life cycle   Non-renewable energy (MJ primary energy) – non-renewable energy consumption  Mineral extraction (MJ additional energy) – resource intensiveness of the options examined  One of the main benefits of biochar is its ability to sequester atmospheric carbon. Biomass takes up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as is grows. This carbon dioxide is then released back to the atmosphere when the biomass decomposes. In the case of biochar from pyrolysis, however, a portion of the carbon is locked in the biochar where it remains for many years. As such, biochar is considered to sequester carbon. For the purpose of this LCA, three tonnes of carbon dioxide were assumed to be sequestered by every tonne of biochar applied to land (Galinato et al., 2008).  For LCC, life expectancy of the mobile slow pyrolysis unit was approximately 20 years. The capital cost and operation and maintenance cost of the mobile unit were based on data listed in Shackley et al. (2011) which provided costs for a range of scales and resulted in $8.37 million for capital cost and $0.43 million for operational cost for the scale of the machine assessed (i.e., 50 dry t feedstock/day). It was assumed that it would be used only for five years for this project (i.e. mobilization and commissioning (Year 1), production of biochar during Year 2 and 3 (6 months/yr), demobilization (Year 4), and one year idle to find another contract (Year 5)) and then used for other project. Therefore, only a portion of the capital cost was allocated to the cost of Option 4 (Local Biochar). This portion was estimated by applying the annual capital cost equation (Equation 1 from Roberts et al., 2010) and represented $4.03 million.   The price of peat was based on Saskatchewan retail price of bailed peat and was equivalent to $300 /dry tonne. The cost of production of biochar was based on average US retail price and was equivalent to $1,000/ dry tonne (Brunjes, 2012). All cost data were reported in 2011 $Cdn. Data from the literature were converted using relevant exchange rates, construction price indices, and consumer price indices (for transportation) (Statistic Canada, 2013a and 2013b). Transport of material was calculated based on data in Ghafoori and Flynn (2009) (i.e. fixed cost of $6.79/tonne, variable cost: $0.12/t*km)  Results  LCA screening results are shown in Figure 1. Option 2 (Peat) resulted in the greatest potential environmental impacts in all impact categories when compared to the other options. Option 3 (Commercial Biochar) resulted in the lowest potential greenhouse gas impacts (i.e. global warming). The impacts to global warming are related to the ability of biochar to sequester atmospheric carbon (3t CO2eq/t biochar assumed in this study). This option also was the most preferred option in terms of non-renewable energy consumption.  These results were based on the assumed usage of the biochar oil and gas co-products as a heat source in other operations at the facility, thus offsetting a portion of the natural gas requirements. Thus, the commercial biochar production process resulted in a greater amount of energy than was required for pyrolysis and resulted in an energy credit. Option 4 (Local Biochar) showed the best balance among all environmental impacts, i.e. it had relatively low potential impact on respiratory inorganics, terrestrial acidification/nutrification, non-renewable energy, and mineral extraction, and also resulted in a reduction of the greenhouse gases. Figure 1 shows the global warming impacts of Option 4 with (3t CO2eq/t biochar) and without (0t CO2eq/t biochar) carbon sequestration to demonstrate the effects of the assumed rate of sequestration.   LCC screening results are shown in Table 4. The total cost of Option 3 (Commercial Biochar) was about $ 20 million, which was much higher than total costs of Option 2 (Peat) and Option 4 (Local Biochar), which were approximately equal to $4 and $5 million, respectively. For Option 4, the highest cost was the capital cost of the mobile unit allocated to the project. This value also had the highest level of uncertainty and variability as it was estimated based on best fit of empirical data. It was also sensitive to the analysis assumptions. An important assumption was that after this project, new contracts for biochar production would be obtained and the unit would be used, thus allowing the allocation of the capital cost of the mobile unit to other projects. The cost to the project would differ from the estimate if contracts were not obtained. For example, if the unit remained idle for 5 years after the project, the capital cost allocated to the project increases from $4 million to $8 million, thereby increasing the cost of the project to $9 million. This cost was still lower than that of the cost of Option 3, but it was twice that of Option 2.  Figure 1. Life Cycle Assessment results for potential environmental impact from three revegetation options. Results are presented relative to highest absolute score (i.e. Option 2 for respiratory inorganics, terrestrial acidification/nutrification, non-renewable energy and mineral extraction and Option 3 for global warming).  As the mobile unit capital cost was sensitive to a number of years allocated to the project, reduction of Option 4 (Local Biochar) cost could be made by operating the unit all year around. At a rate of 15 dry t biochar produced per day and assuming 24h/d operation with 20% down time for maintenance, it would take approximately 400 days to produce 5,300 t of biochar. Reducing the number of years from 5 to 3 by operating all year brings the cost of Option 4 in line with that of Option 2 ($4.3 million). But this might require additional capital investments, such as storage for the feedstock and equipment, which were not considered. Other scenarios might also improve the cost attractiveness of Option 4, such as selling the mobile unit after the project to recover a portion of the initial investments.  Table 3. Life Cycle Cost Analysis Results for three revegetation options.  Life cycle activities Option 2: Revegetation with Peat Option 3: Revegetation with Commercial Biochar Option 4: Revegetation with Local Biochar Notes Acquisition of soil amendment $2,544,000 $19,451,000 NA 8,480 dry tonne for peat and 5,300 dry tonne for biochar Application of organic soil amendment  $67,302 $42,063 $42,063 The same method of application is assumed Capital cost of mobile unit associated with this project NA NA $4,031,000 Total capital cost $8.37 million for a unit. Number of year allocated to the project = 5 years. Discount rate = 5%. Transport of mobile unit to Gunnar NA NA $22,300 Assumed transport on 10 flat bedsTransport of biomass to mobile unit NA NA $196,000 Assumed 5 km transportation.  Input biomass moisture content: 40% Life cycle activities Option 2: Revegetation with Peat Option 3: Revegetation with Commercial Biochar Option 4: Revegetation with Local Biochar Notes Biomass processing for biochar production NA NA $132,000 Based on cost of delivered diesel in Gunnar of $1.86 - based on invoice from Ucity Bulk Fuels (Jansen et al., 2012) Operation and maintenance of mobile unit NA NA $425,000 Based on data listed in Shackey 2011 Transportation soil amendments and equipment $1,405,000 $878,000 NA  Travel to site of staff for set up of biochar production NA NA $143,100  Total $4,016,000 $20,371,000 $4,991,000  To sum up, it is not immediately clear from the quantitative analysis results which option is preferred. For example, Option 4 (Local Biochar) was found more preferable from the environmental point of view and Option 2 (Peat) was the most cost efficient option. However, the information could support decision making for reaching consensus on option selection and provides information on trade off amongst options. For example, higher cost options (e.g. Option 4 vs Option 2) should not be disregarded as it could provide environmental benefits. In line with the purpose of this case study (i.e., identify a viable revegetation option with an optimal balance between benefits for the environment, society, and economy), on-site biochar appeared to strike a balance between life cycle cost and environmental performance.  CONCLUSION  This case study provides suggested a comprehensive analysis of environmental, social, and economic benefits associated with options biochar application for land reclamation in northern Saskatchewan. The study demonstrated the potential environmental impacts associated with It has been shown that biochar production and transportation is associated with air pollution, greenhouse emission, energy consumption, terrestrial acidification, and waste production. On the other hand, this soil amendment appears more environmentally friendly than the common alternative (i.e. peat). Therefore, its use for revegetation purposes can help to achieve environmental goals such as reduction of greenhouse gases, air pollutants, terrestrial acidification, and energy consumption, as well as protection of local and regional biodiversity. On-site biochar production can also provide social benefits, such as local community involvement and better public perception of the project. On the other hand, biochar production can be associated with occupational risks and its use instead of peat can be less effective in reaching other social goals such as improved site aesthetic, increased land use benefits and assured public safety due to remediation success.   Besides environmental and social benefits, biochar application for land reclamation practices can provide economic benefits through providing new opportunities for local and regional businesses, rise in province revenue, and employment increase. On the other hand, high cost of biochar may be a challenge. Also, the relatively new technology may be associated with higher technological and project risks. This could result in less application by reclamation practitioners and lack of faith by decision makers.   It should be noted that biochar industry develops fast, which results not only in increased production capacity of biochar facilities but also improve biochar quality and, subsequently, reduces biochar cost. For example, SRC biochar supplier have increased their production by a factor of 20 and reduced the prices twofold for the last four years (Levine, 2014). They also increased biochar quality by improving its physical and chemical properties. This positive trend suggests that in the nearest future, biochar can become more affordable and a technically reliable alternative to conventional land reclamation techniques.         REFERENCES   Becker, A. and F. Vanclay, 2003 The  International Handbook of Social Impact Assessment: Conceptual and Methodological Advances. Edward Elgar Publishing Limited, Cheltenham.    Brunjes, L. 2012. Biochar Industry Status Update. 2012 US Biochar Conference.   Galinato, S.P, Yoder, J.K., and Granaststein, D. 2008. The economic value of biochar in crop production and carbon sequestration. Energy Policy 39:6344-6350  Ghafoori, E. and Flynn, P.C. 2007. Optimizing the size of anaerobic digesters. 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