Vale wins award for exemplary biosolids management

About Vale


Vale wins award for exemplary biosolids management

When operations in Ontario, Canada, first began trucking in “dewatered biosolids,” or, in layman’s terms, poop, from southern Ontario four years ago to regreen a tailings pond, we weren’t sure if a practice that had seen success at other mining sites would achieve similar results here. “Tailings are different. We have acidic and sulfur-rich tailings. The conditions are different and what we wanted to answer was could we do it here?”, explained Glen Watson, superintendent of Decommission and Reclamation, responsible for the project.

And this past April, the Water and Environment Association of Ontario announced that our company and partner Terratec Environmental, a provider of municipal and industrial biosolids management, had won the Association’s Exemplary Biosolids Management Award for 2018.

The results of using dewatered biosolids on inactive tailings areas have been impressive. After it’s blended with an organic source, like local leaf and yard waste and allowed to compost for a few months, odours are greatly reduced and the biosolids look and feel like garden soil that is then spread across the surface of the tailings pond and covered with straw to control both dust and odours. Flora and fauna have both returned to areas that just a few years ago had more in common with a barren desert than the prairies they now closely resemble.

This stuff is high test. It really works. In four years, we’re seeing a depth of soil formation that would have taken 20 to 30 years using other reclamation methods. Even seed, just from the hay laid down, has taken root and flourished.”

Glen Watson, superintendent of Decommission and Reclamation.

Did you know?

Forty years ago, Vale pioneered a regreening approach that worked by raising the pH levels of the acidic and sulfur-rich tailings with lime, fertilizing and then planting seed. While it succeeded, the process was costly as well as time- and labour-intensive. Now, Glen and his team are making sustainable and efficient use of a nutrient-rich product that would otherwise have found its way into a landfill, and it’s being used to regreen and reclaim tailings around our mining operations.

Vale wins award for exemplary biosolids management