British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

The use of digested sewage sludge as an aid to reclaim and revegetate surface/strip mines and mine spoils Van Ham, Mike; McDonald, M; Lee, Ken; Peddie, Craig Cameron, 1956-


Ecosystem restoration, and satisfactory revegetation of strip-mined areas provides an amiable complement to the disposal of treated sewage sludge. Although surface mining is often the most economical method for removing mineral resources, its detrimental impacts on the land surface landscape and ecological environment is and will continue to be a concern. The problem of reclaiming lands disturbed by mining activities is extremely important, as is the sustainability of these reclaimed lands. Stringent regulations, in combination with aie cost of commercial fertilizers, make the search for fertilizer substitutes and alternate soil amendments vital. The use of anaerobically digested de-watered sewage sludge as both a fertilizer source and a soil organic matter amendment in mine reclamation can provide the solution to two pressing and use-related problems: the disposal of treated sewage sludge in a beneficial re-use function and the reclamation and revegetation of mine spoils. Sewage sludges can be regarded as a recyclable source of nutrients and organic matter, and can aid in revegetation and initiation of a sustainable soil humus complex. The purpose of this symposium submission is to review the current state of knowledge on the use of sewage sludges for revegetation and reclamation of surface/strip mines and mine spoils. The long-term sustainability of reclamation efforts utilizing sludges will be detailed by assessing related research projects and operational trials. Results of a joint GVRD/UBC investigation of the use of sewage sludge as an organic forest fertilizer will be presented. Potential environmental impacts are reviewed including effects on vegetation, soil properties, water quality and animal health.

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