A Review of the International Literature on Mine Spoil Subsidence

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  • This is one of a series of reports that presents the findings of the Plains Hydrology and Reclamation Project (PHRP), an interdisciplinary study that focuses primarily on hydrologic aspects of reclamation of surface coal mines in the plains of Alberta. This research has been conducted by the Alberta Research Council, as part of the Alberta Government’s Reclamation Research Program. The program is managed by the Land Conservation and Reclamation Council and is supported by the Heritage Trust Fund. The focus of the PHRP is to develop a predictive framework that will permit projection of success for reclamation and impact of mining on water resources on a long-term basis. The predictive framework is based on an understanding of processes acting within the landscape so that in the future, mine sites that are not totally analogous to those that have been studied, can be evaluated as well. The project involves a holistic approach to reclamation by integration of studies of geology, hydrogeology and soils, not only in the proposed mining area, but also in the adjoining unmined areas. This approach permits the assessment of impacts and of long-term performance, not only in reclaimed areas, but also in the surrounding area. This report focuses on PHRP Sub-objective A5, which is concerned with subsidence behaviour in reclaimed mine spoil. Differential subsidence of reclaimed surfaces has been demonstrated to create water—holding depressions that disrupt farming operations and to cause pavement distress in roads crossing reclaimed areas. Subsidence depressions have the potential to delay granting of reclamation certification in the Plains region of Alberta. As part of our study of this phenomenon, we have reviewed the available engineering literature relative to subsidence of reclaimed mine spoil.

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