The Need for Sustainable Mining: Characterization of Ultramafic/Mafic Minerals for Mine Reclamation in BC
Anne Joseph, MLWS 2021
The impact of anthropogenic activities such as mining necessitates the knowledge of mechanisms to reduce disturbances to land and water resources affected, contributing to sustainable approaches to mine reclamation in British Columbia (B.C.). Greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), a significant threat to climate change, have urged mining companies to diversify methods to sequester carbon to tackle these issues in B.C. Mine tailings have been useful as a feedstock in sequestering carbon, creating opportunities for mining companies to balance any emissions they may have produced during exploration activities. However, these tailings have posed dangers of acid mine drainage (AMD) and metal leaching (ML) into surrounding geoecosystems. Peer-reviewed articles were analyzed and used to assess the effect of biological activities in mine tailings. Organic amendments such as biosolids were found to have a positive impact on mine sites over long periods. Carbon pools, plant productivity, soil physiochemical properties and application rates of biosolids on mine soils were evaluated to assess the effect of biosolids. Outcomes revealed an increase in enzymatic activities, soil quality and quantity, positively impacting the biogeochemical cycle. The most significant impact is a cost-effective approach for neutralizing acidified mine soils through AMD and ML, reducing land and groundwater contamination hazards. In addition, a systematic review on the study of weathering rates of mine tailing was also conducted. A significant synthesis suggests that it is essential to conduct further research to understand the weathering sequence of minerals coupled with the addition of organic amendments to ultramafic mine tailings to promote the formation of anthroposols during carbon sequestration. This synthesis has provided the basis for studies related to mine reclamation of lands affected by acidified processes, which is pivotal to developing a sustainable geoecosystem.