Sodic Overburden Capping Depths For Coal Mine Reclamation

Grad Student Position Details

Project Title
Sodic Overburden Capping Depths For Coal Mine Reclamation

Degree Program

M Anne Naeth

Professorial Rank

Renewable Resources

Project Start Date

Project Description

Research Project

Coal Valley Mine is undergoing reclamation to return 6000 ha of its site to equivalent land capability and to obtain a reclamation certificate. Reclamation involves many components including water management, end pit lakes, wetlands, and terrestrial environments. In terrestrial environments, establishment of a self-sustaining and diverse native vegetation community on reclaimed areas is a goal. However, overburden materials from coal mining can be saline and/or sodic, resulting in poor vegetation establishment. Capping sodic overburden with topsoil, increases the likelihood of successful plant establishment and current guidelines recommend one metre of topsoil cover. Sufficient topsoil for reclamation of large areas is difficult to obtain. If depths less than one metre could be used to establish the desired plant community, this would reduce reclamation costs and save valuable and limited topsoil for other sites.

The objective of this research is to investigate the impact of shallow versus deep (1 m) topsoil depths over sodic overburden on reclamation success (salts movement, soil quality, native plant species and cover establishment). Field work will be conducted in summers 2023 and 2024 at Coal Valley mine, located in the Foothills region, approximately 100 km south of Hinton, Alberta. The project may also involve laboratory and database research. The results of this study will inform current and future coal mine reclamation practices.


  • A BSc degree in land reclamation, environmental, soil science, plant science or equivalent field of study.
  • Course work in soil chemistry and physics and plant sciences.
  • Enjoys reading and synthesizing scientific literature.
  • Resourcefulness and ability to effectively problem solve.
  • Adapts to changing priorities and schedules.
  • Works well independently.
  • Willingness to travel to field site south of Hinton, Alberta, and live and work with a research assistant for 7 to 10 day periods during the field season.
  • A Class 5 non graduated driver’s license and comfortable driving 4×4 trucks.
  • Experience working in the field and/or laboratory are an asset.

Reclamation, Restoration, Soil Science, Plant Science

Contact Email

Other contact information
Apply: Send a statement of interest, current CV and copies of your academic transcripts to
If not a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, applicants must already be in Canada with a valid study and/or work permit and a valid Canadian drivers license.
We appreciate all applications; however, only those short listed for an interview will be contacted.

Project Website

Stipend Amount/year