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Composting at Mine Sites

This page contains information on composting technologies that is applicable to addressing contamination at abandoned mine land sites.

Compost versus Biosolids

Compost is the product resulting from the controlled biological decomposition of organic material that has been sanitized through the generation of heat and stabilized to the point that it is beneficial to plant growth. Compost contains plant nutrients, but bears little physical resemblance to the raw material from which it originated and is not typically characterized as a fertilizer.

- Adapted from the US Composting Council's Field Guide to Compost Use

Biosolids are the nutrient-rich organic materials resulting from the treatment of sewage sludge. Sewage sludge is the solid, semisolid or liquid untreated residue generated during the treatment of domestic sewage in a treatment facility.

- From EPA's Biosolids Program

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General Composting Information

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Composting at Mine Sites

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Chemical Bonding Capabilities


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Slope Stability and Erosion Control


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Revegetation Using Compost


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Video Presentation

  • EPA. Environmental Response Television (ERTV) series. Biosolids Recycling: Restore, Reclaim, Remediate (ERTV) Exit EPA Disclaimer - A video presentation produced by the U.S. EPA Environmental Response Program.

    Program Description: Sewage treatment results in wastewater being recycled to the environment, but the solids removed from wastewater can also be processed and turned into a nutrient rich fertilizer. Today’s primary use of this fertilizer is to restore overworked agricultural soils, but research by the USDA and the USEPA/ERT has now opened the way for use of biosolids to reclaim lands destroyed by mining.

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Other Related Uses


  • Johnson, D. Barrie and Kevin B. Hallberg. Biogeochemistry of the Compost Bioreactor Components of a Composite Acid Mine Drainage Passive Remediation System (Abstract, with option to buy full text Exit Disclaimer). Science of The Total Environment Volume 338, Issues 1-2, 1. Pages 81-93. February 2005.
  • Inkret, John, Bernie Jensen, Doug Richmond. Using Topsoil as a Microbial Inoculant. 2003 National Meeting of the American Society of Mining and Reclamation and the 9th Billings Land Reclamation Symposium. 2003.
  • EPA Mine Waste Technology Program. Improvements in Engineered Bioremediation of Acid Mine Drainage. Mine Waste Technology Program 2003 Annual Report, Activity III Project 24. DW89938870-01-0. 2003.
  • EPA Mine Waste Technology Program. Integrated Passive Biological Treatment Process Demonstration. Mine Waste Technology Program 2003 Annual Report, Activity III, Project 16. DW89938870-01-0. 2003.
  • EPA Mine Waste Technology Program. Anaerobic Compost Constructed Wetlands System Technology - SITE ITER. National Risk Management Research Laboratory. EPA/540/R-02/506. December 2002.

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California Gulch (CO)

Before: Historic gold, silver, zinc and lead mining operations

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