British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

Low-cost self-cladding of coal dumps : the Fungcoal Process Horan, M.P.; Rose, P.D.


The cladding of waste and production coal dumps to prevent combustion and rainfall infiltration, with attendant acidic seepage, has long presented challenges with the high-cost of clay and soil liner systems. The associated environmental damage in sourcing cladding materials can also be severe. Here, we report the development of a biotechnological self-cladding process in which fungal inocula are used to degrade coal and establish a humic soil-like layer on the coal dump surface. The layer supports the growth of grass plantations and the sealing of the dump in this way controls ingress of oxygen and rainfall penetration. This form of cladding is self-generating and thus is not easily prone to permanent erosion damage and loss of the dump cover characteristic of soil/clay liners. Initial fundamental studies on the biodegradation of hard bituminous coals by mycorrhizal fungal strains is described and also how the development of the process has been scaled up from laboratory through piloting to field scale applications. The paper reports economic modeling of the Fungcoal Process which has shown a favourable potential cost benefit in comparison to conventional clay and soil liners.

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