British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

Research on tailings in British Columbia - U.B.C. experience Lavkulich, L. M.


For the past several years the Department of Soil Science at the University of British Columbia has been involved in research related to vegetation of mine wastes. The general objective of the research program has been to characterize mine wastes, especially tailings, by physical, chemical, mineralogical and biological properties. In this manner, the research has been oriented towards understanding the inherent properties of mine wastes so that the materials may be transformed to a "soil" that will not only maintain vegetation but also sustain it, without the necessity of continuous management. During 1976-77 the Department of Soil Science, under the auspices of the British Columbia Department of Mines and Petroleum Resources has intensified its research on tailings. This research activity has been oriented towards a better understanding of the various types of tailings, their elemental composition, the elements they release upon weathering, growth limiting factors and vegetative success. The ultimate aim is to develop guidelines for the establishment of vegetation in the various biophysical regions of the province. It was also hoped that the mining industry would become involved in collecting the data, both environmental and laboratory, in order for them to develop their own expertise as well as help plan future reclamation programs. This integration of government, university and private sector has much to offer in terms of efficiency of utilization of resources, training and obtaining a base-line upon which British Columbia reclamation programs can be patterned.

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