British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

Demonstrating self-sustaining vegetation : Granby Tailings, Princeton, B.C. Peddie, Craig Cameron, 1956-; Duynstee, Theresa; Taylor, Leah


The Granby Tailings, located immediately east of the Town of Princeton, are a highly visible reminder of the original Granby Copper and Consolidated Company that operated in the Princeton area between 1922 and 1956. This seventy eight hectare tailings pile lay barren, void of vegetative cover for almost forty years, creating aesthetic, wind erosion, and chronic dust problems for the local citizens. Low annual precipitation (35 cm), combined with the poor moisture and nutrient retention of the inert tailings, had frustrated the efforts of both man and nature to revegetate the tailings site. In 1992, the Greater Vancouver Regional District in partnership with the Town of Princeton established four demonstration plots on the Granby Tailings, to show how mine spoils can be successfully reclaimed using biosolids (treated sewage sludge). The tailings were enriched with biosolids, seeded, and monitored over the past five years. Extensive soil, water, and vegetation sampling in and around the plots, before and following the applications, confirmed that biosolids is a safe and effective soil amendment. The biosolids provided organic matter and essential plant nutrients that helped establish a healthy, mixed grass and legume cover, which in turn eliminated the dust and wind erosion problems, and reclaimed the area for recreation, cattle, and wildlife use. Based on the results from the initial demonstration plots, Princeton Town Council and the Economic Development Commission supported the GVRD's proposal in 1994 to landscape the entire Granby Tailings site using biosolids. A total of fifty six hectares of flat pond surfaces and twenty hectares of steep slide slopes were reclaimed over two years. The vigorous growth has provided increased opportunities for forage production, seasonal cattle grazing, and wildlife habitat. Even more exciting is the Town's plans to expand the local golf course onto the tailings site. The results of the monitoring program associated with the demonstration plots, as well as a brief overview of the full scale reclamation operation are presented.

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