Coal is mined in Alberta, with most being used to
generate electricity. The rest is metallurgical coal used for the
manufacture of steel. Most coal in Alberta is surface mined.
Vegetation is cleared and the topsoil
is removed and stored for later
replacement. Subsoil and overburden are also removed and stored
separately and then the coal is mined. To reclaim the land, the
overburden and subsoil are replaced in their correct order and
contoured. The topsoil is replaced and the land is seeded with the
right kind of vegetation for the intended land use. Establishing
vegetation also helps to prevent erosion.
Without reclamation, the effects of surface mining can
be seen for years. The unstable land around the coal pits and the
coal spoil piles would be unsuitable for agriculture and would present
safety hazards. Wildlife would continue to be affected by the loss
of vegetation and habitat like they are during the mining process.
Therefore, reclamation is critical.
Reprinted from Focus On Land Reclamation (1999) with permission of Alberta Environment.