Reclamation of an Abandoned Placer Mine Site: Birch Creek, Circle Mining District, Alaska

Nelson, Michael G. ; Packee, Edmond C. Jr. ; Helm, Dot J.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 6
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1995
Under a Section 319 Water Quality grant from the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, a working group of government agencies, mining industry representatives, and University of Alaska researchers undertook reclamation of an abandoned mine site on Birch Creek, near mile 101 of the Steese Highway. Stream hydrology, water quality, and the extent and nature of natural revegetation, were measured before the site was then recontoured to decrease the bedload deposition and bank erosion of the streams. Methods for stabilization of streams and rivers appear to have much in common with those for locations further south, but are subject to complications unique to the North, such as the formation of aufeiss, and to a lack of accurate climatological data. Natural revegetation appears to be possible for most northern placer mine sites. However, it may take place more slowly than required by public perception. Preliminary data indicate a surprising lack of nutrients in the floodplains of mined areas. Natural revegetation may be enhanced by selective planting of grasses and willows, which will contribute variously to soil quality, bank stabilization, and short-term appearance. Monitoring of hydrologic and water quality data, and of natural and artificially placed vegetation will continue at the .Birch Creek site through the summer of 1995,
Full Article Download:
(275 kb)