Evaluation of Metal Contamination and Soil Properties at Former Mine Sites in Poland

by Kaitlyn McClung and Emily Brooks

Faculty mentor: Dr. Melanie Szulczewski

Surface mining dramatically affects the environment, both where the resource extraction takes place and in the areas where mining wastes and overburden are deposited. Poland is Europe’s top coal producing country and is also home to many mines for pyrite, sand, and other mineral resources. We studied soil samples from three former mining areas in Poland: the Bełchatów and Smolnica coal mines, and the Piaseczno sulfur mine. Various substrates, amendments, and trees had been used for remediation, with activities taking place up to 36 years previously. The success of reforestation and soil development varied greatly, especially in pH, organic matter, and metal concentrations.