Mining for Answers: Using Biochar to Remediate Abandoned Mine Lands

May 8, 2024 | 0 comments

The mining and extraction of metals, natural gas, and oil helped propel population movement, technology, and wealth, but the boom and bust of mining left behind thousands of abandoned mines on public lands.

Many abandoned mine sites pose environmental and human health concerns, including physical risks like open holes, contaminated soil, degraded water quality, and poor native plant revegetation. One tool for remediating degraded soil is to incorporate biochar in the mine spoils.

Biochar is a carbon-rich soil amendment created by burning slash with specifically designed equipment at relatively low temperatures. Biochar added to disturbed or contaminated soil can bind and neutralize harmful chemical compounds, reduce acidity, and improve soil water availability, thereby helping to promote the establishment and success of native vegetation.

The biochar needed to restore abandoned mine sites can be made during forest restoration activities nearby. Mobile biochar technologies (e.g., CharBoss ® air curtain incinerator, kilns) make the forest-to-mine site efforts an affordable solution. Biochar created from forest slash can be applied to nearby abandoned mine land (AML) sites.

Continue reading at USDA Forest Service