British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

Developing tailings ponds and pit lakes as bioreactors and habitat cost-effective successes at Highland Valley Copper Larratt, Heather M.; Freberg, Mark; Hamaguchi, Bob A.


Forty-five years of mining in the Highland Valley has created several completed tailings ponds and pit lakes. Efforts to enhance the development of these evolving water bodies have been underway since the mid-1990s. Extensive yet inexpensive techniques have been successful in establishing biochemically active and ecologically valuable aquatic resources. The results obtained and the techniques used, including nutrient growth factor additions, artificial upwelling, biorafts and microfloral introductions, will be described. The initial fertilization of a pit lake in the Highland Valley invariably results in an extensive phytoplankton bloom that is impossible to replicate in the second or subsequent years. This inability to sustain vigorous biologic production has implications to the development of productive ecosystems and imposes limitations on the metal removal potential of the phytoplankton. Recent work has led to an increased understanding of the role played by vitamins in these water bodies, and this work and some possible solutions will be presented.

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