British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

Environmental, social, and economic benefits of biochar application for land reclamation purposes Petelina, Elizaveta; Sanscartier, David; MacWilliam, Susan; Ridsdale, Reanne


Biochar is a solid material produced by pyrolysis of biomass, which was shown to improve soil properties. On the other hand, there are a number of risks and uncertainties associated with its use in land reclamation. This case study is aimed to assess environmental, social, and economical benefits and limitations of biochar use for revegetation projects in northern Saskatchewan. Four revegetation options were examined, i.e. natural restoration, revegetation with peat application, and revegetation with application of commercially or locally produced biochar. The assessment methods included option screening by the expert panel, stakeholder opinion survey, and quantitative assessment (i.e. screening life cycle assessment and life cycle costing analysis). The study results suggest that biochar provides a number of environmental benefits and its on-site production can also provide social benefits and economic opportunities. On the other hand, biochar production and application is expensive and associated with technical risks, which can undermine overall project success. Nevertheless, positive trends in biochar production industry suggest that in the near future this material may serve as an affordable and technically reliable alternative to conventional soil amendments for land reclamation.

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