British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

Using genomics in mine reclamation Fraser, L. H.; Garris, H. W.; Baldwin, S. A.; Van Hamme, J. D.; Gardner, W. C.


For the majority of mines, closure succeeds when healthy, self-sustaining ecosystems develop on previously mined lands. In British Columbia, Canada, the regulations require reclamation of ecosystems; however, there are few specified targets, and those that are presented are vague. Genomics technologies may provide the key to both understanding the elements necessary to recreate functional ecosystems and provide sufficient benchmarks for success. In this review, we highlight the use of genomics to meet mine closure goals, enhance ecosystem development and optimise ecosystem services inherent in self-sustaining reclaimed ecosystems. We outline practical steps for applying genomics technologies to characterise the composition and activity of microbial communities in soils and treatment substrates. From this framework, we address the state of the science and how recently developed techniques have transferable value to mine reclamation. We then define three areas in which genomics technologies have already proven effective at informing management and reclamation of mine sites in the form of bioreactors, passive treatment systems and novel gene discovery. Finally, we speculate on the future applications of genomics technologies and the necessary steps to integrate these data into comprehensive management of mined sites.

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