British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

Cost-effective strategies for the restoration of large disturbances Polster, David


Mine reclamation is an important part of the mining process (Errington 1978). The cost of traditional reclamation may limit the incorporation of reclamation as mining proceeds. Reclamation elements such as waste dump re-contouring, soil application, seeding, planting and tending all contribute to the high cost of reclamation. The design of waste dumps with reclamation in mind can greatly reduce the cost of resloping (Milligan and Berdusco 1978). Where pioneering species are used to build soils, the cost of traditional soil applications can be eliminated. Creation of site conditions (rough and loose with woody debris) that foster the natural establishment of pioneering species can similarly greatly reduce the costs of vegetation establishment (Polster 2009). By re-creating the natural successional processes that operate in a region (Polster 1989) reclaimed sites will be relatively resistant to invasive species and will ensure the site remains vegetated in the future. Natural processes have been “restoring” disturbances such as landslides, volcanic eruptions, glaciation for millions of years. By following these processes human disturbances (mines and industrial sites) can be restored at a fraction of the traditional costs. Natural processes will do the work of developing productive soils and providing self-sustaining vegetation covers if the conditions that foster these recovery processes are created.

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