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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Florence, South Carolina » Coastal Plain Soil, Water and Plant Conservation Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #349411

Research Project: Improvement of Soil Management Practices and Manure Treatment/Handling Systems of the Southern Coastal Plain

Location: Coastal Plain Soil, Water and Plant Conservation Research

Title: Biochar for mine land reclamation

item Ippolito, James - Colorado State University
item Cui, Liqiang - Yancheng Institute Of Technology
item Novak, Jeffrey - Jeff
item Johnson, Mark - Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Submitted to: Biochar from Biomass and Waste
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/24/2018
Publication Date: 11/9/2018
Citation: Ippolito, J.A., Cui, L., Novak, J.M., Johnson, M.G. 2018. Biochar for mine land reclamation. In: Ok, Y.S., Tsang, D.C., Bolan, N., Novak, J.M. Biochar from Biomass and Waste. 1st edition. New York, Academic Press. p. 75-90.

Interpretive Summary: Abandoned mine lands exist globally and are estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands. After ore extraction at the mine sites, the leftover waste rock and material contains heavy metals or acidic material from sulfur oxidation. Biochar may play a role in improving mine land reclamation since biochars can sequester heavy metals, neutralize acidic conditions, and replenish organic matter. Biochar application to mine land materials can increase mine spoil quality thereby promoting better plant growth conditions. Improvement in mine spoil conditions subsequently increases plant growth and eventual reductions in bioavailable metal concentrations. We have summarized the important role biochar plays in sorbing, sequestering, precipitation, and ultimately reducing bioavailable metals in contaminated solutions, soils, and mine land situations.

Technical Abstract: The number of abandoned mines globally is in the hundreds of thousands, with many mines capable of generating acidity, increasing metal solubility, and degrading environmental quality. Biochar may play a role in alleviating acidity and heavy metal contamination by increasing soil pH, increasing sites for reactions to occur, sorbing heavy metals as organically-bound phases or oxide, hydroxide, and carbonate species, or via precipitation reactions. Subsequently, plant growth may be improved and abandoned mine site reclamation may become successful via biochar application. Identifying the metals of concern (e.g., Cd, Cu, Pb, Zn), and the correct biochar application rate for heavy metal sequestration, is of utmost importance. This chapter aims to glean information from existing, recent literature with respect to biochar use for removing heavy metals from water and soils, and ultimately guide the reader to better understand the role biochar may play in mine land reclamation scenarios.