Reclamation Example: Reclamation Research at Fording River and Greenhills

December 01, 2016

Fording River and Greenhills Elkford, British Columbia
Type: Steelmaking coal mine
Active: Fording River, 1972–today. Greenhills, 1983–today
Status: Progressive reclamation during mining; active reclamation research program

Our Fording River mine in the Elk Valley of southeastern B.C. is a pioneering site in mining reclamation research, having led research and development of best practices and improved techniques for decades.

Environment personnel at Fording River began to incorporate reclamation research in the early 1980s, conducting early studies on optimal approaches to slope preparation, site preparation, species selection, and the spacing and timing of revegetation. From this research we developed our operational best practices, which we have refined over the last 30 years. 

We still learn from the work being undertaken at Fording as we continue to conduct monitoring and research on the response of the vegetation to our treatments. We carry that new knowledge forward into our operational practice, to see improvements and to realize our goals of net positive impact for biodiversity. 

At our Greenhills mine, located adjacent to Fording River, we are conducting reclamation research at the Rosebowl, a 30-hectare site where leftover rock was piled during mining. This research is focused on better understanding what types of plant species are best for revegetation and what kind of soil treatments may help to retain moisture to support vegetation growth. 

For this research, we create mounds, similar to moguls on a ski hill, which provide shade and wind protection and help to increase moisture in the trenches between them—all things that promote vegetation. We plant a variety of species, from herbs to shrubs to conifers; each species is targeted towards the conditions found in individual portions of the mounded surfaces. Studying the areas prepared in this manner is helping us determine which native species are best suited to grow in which  specific conditions.