British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

Engineering approach to mine reclamation with biosolids Renken, Karin


Biosolids (treated municipal sewage sludge) used as a soil amendment has been demonstrated to help establish and sustain vegetation on mine tailings and waste rock dumps in B.C. and internationally. This paper outlines an engineering approach to calculate biosolids application rates and suggests monitoring guidelines for operational scale biosolids applications. In addition, a list of general best management practices is presented. Key parameters for biosolids use are related to the site's hydrology, hydrogeology, soil properties, in-situ vegetation, and current and projected wildlife population. The nutrient sensitivity of surrounding waterheds is another key parameter. Biosolids is typically applied at either a fertilizer or a reclamation application rate. Biosolids is applied to vegetated, but nutrient deficient, areas at fertilizer application rates. Biosolids is applied to unvegetated, and organic matter and nutrient deficient areas at reclamation application rates. Application rate calculations are primarily based on the organic matter and nitrogen contents and to a lesser degree on trace element concentrations in the biosolids and the soil to be amended. It is proposed, but not discussed, to base estimations in application rate calculations on the biodegradable C:N ratio instead of the conventionally used Total C:Total N ratio. Algorithms for the determination of fertilizer and reclamation application rates are provided.

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