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Biochar for Mine Lands Reclamation

Christopher Peltz
Research Services LLC
Presentation file: 
PDF icon 4.2.1 Peltz, Christopher.pdf44.03 MB

As demonstrated by the Gold King Mine Spill in Southwest Colorado, one of the most significant and enduring problems associated with mining affected sites is the transport of acidic and metal rich material into water courses. With tens of thousands of sites across the U.S. West, active mining and legacy mining sites contribute to soil and water pollution. A key element of any effort to preventing the export of contaminated soils from these sites is the establishment of a healthy vegetative cover and soil conditions that allow for natural vegetative successional processes to occur.  Often the chemical and physical condition of a mine sites soil limits the ability of plants to establish through local seed sources and requires active soil remediation. Enhanced reclamation techniques using soil amendments can achieve significantly better vegetation establishment results. Biochar, as a purpose made material is a novel component of soil amendments. Given its general characteristics of high porosity, high fixed carbon content, and low density, biochar for application to mining affected soils has demonstrated potential. Presented here are several multi-year field and greenhouse studies which examine biochar’s impact on soil chemical, physical characteristics on mining affected sites in Colorado, Nevada, and Utah.

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