This volume is the best primer on Mine Reclamation I have yet come across: The Practical Guide to Reclamation in Utah. I can find no date on the e-file at the link; the guide talks of “at the start of the new millennium” and the latest reference date is 1998, so maybe it comes from the early 2000’s. Regardless of when it was written, it should be your first stop on a tour of mine reclamation reading, even if your mine is not in Utah.

With over 160 pages of well-written, clear and logical text, this guide covers mine-reclamation topics including: shaping the land--visual considerations; reclaiming waterways—drainage reclamation and streambank bioengineering; handling soils; and revegetation. And that is just Part 1 of the guide. Part 2 includes fifteen Technique Sheets that provide practical guidelines to reclamation activities including: surface roughening; erosion control; check dams; and sediment ponds.

Here are some observations from the guide that caught my attention:

  • In many areas of Utah, slopes are strewn with boulders of various sizes. Reclaimed slopes, no matter how well they blend in form, will be conspicuous if they are lacking in texture created by such boulders. The same is true of texture differences created by lack of proper surface roughening or an overly simple and even distribution of vegetation.
  • When dealing with unconsolidated materials such as waste and tailings piles, the straight slopes should be graded to respond to the contours of the area. Generally, the straight slopes should be curved and irregular in both plan and profile.
  • The final surface (of a cover) should have surface roughness to improve retention of seed and soil, while minimizing erosion. The surface roughness may increase retention and infiltration of precipitation until a sufficient amount of vegetation has grown. These opposing concepts of water retention versus water shedding will need to be balanced on the basis of site-specific conditions.
  • A person familiar with fluvial processes should design perennial and intermittent channel reclamation. Familiarity with geomorphology, channel and meander geometry, and the natural tendencies for channel adjustment to stability is needed to predict the most effective design for long-term stability and function.

And so on. I cannot possibly do the guide total justice, so if the topic interests you, download it, read it, enjoy it, and implement it.