Alberta coal mine reclamation project producing woody biomass
By Maria Church
A coal mine reclamation project near Forestburg, Alta., is turning the Westmoreland Coal Company’s Paintearth Mine site into a rapid-growing source of woody biomass for harvest.
Led by environmental consulting firm Sylvis, the BIOSALIX program uses municipal biosolids and other organic waste to promote the growth of a willow crop on the reclaimed land. The willow is then harvested and used as feedstock for bioenergy, soil reclamation, or bioproduct development.
Natural Resource Canada announced last week it is chipping in $3.8 million for the program. Emissions Reduction Alberta and Alberta Innovates are also funders, providing $2 million and $1.5 million, respectively.
Other project partners include EPCOR Water Services Inc., Westmoreland Coal Company, and Bionera Resources.
According to a news release from Sylvis, the project is the first kind, and results in significant sequestration of carbon in both soils and woody biomass.
“The transition to a clean growth economy is one of the greatest challenges that faces Canadians today and one of the most critical for our common future,” John Lavery, principal scientist with Sylvis Environmental Services, said in a news release. “The BIOSALIX program embodies clean growth – the combination of technology and process to drive technical, carbon and social benefit – while meeting the challenges that today’s society faces. It provides communities of all sizes the opportunity to transition and grow beyond natural resources into a clean technology economy.”