Mineland reclamation and mitigation

Improving reclamation

Mine waste is primarily comprised of broken or ground rock with little organic matter or nutrients.

LAM environmental research staff have studied the use of waste products to improve vegetation growth following the reclamation of taconite tailings. Researchers have studied various types of compost, residue from paper mills, treated solids from wastewater treatment plants (biosolids), and dredge material from Lake Superior.

Results from these studies have helped develop new reclamation procedures that have been successfully applied to reclaim coarse taconite tailings.

Coarse taconite tailings without biosolids

Coarse taconite tailings without biosolids

Coarse taconite tailings with biosolids

Coarse taconite tailings with biosolids

Mitigation techniques

Mitigation techniques prevent mine drainage problems and provide treatment methods for water impacted by mining operations.

Methods to prevent mine drainage problems include

  • underwater disposal of waste rock and tailings
  • creating wetlands over tailings
  • co-disposal of tailings and waste rock
  • adding alkaline materials to mine waste
  • coating reactive surfaces to prevent reaction (microencapsulation)
Test plots growing wetland grasses on various tailings basin samples

Creating wetlands on tailing basins

Wetlands with grasses growing in tailings basins

Wetland treatment system

Please see the Lands and Minerals Environmental Research Program list of publications for more information on the research we have done.

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