© 2015 Soil Science Society of China. Mine tailings, waste rock piles, acid mine drainage, industrial wastewater, and sewage sludge have contaminated a vast area of cultivable and fallow lands, with a consequence of deterioration of soil and water quality and watercourses due to the erosion of contaminated soils for absence of vegetative cover. High concentrations of toxic elements, organic contaminants, acidic soils, and harsh climatic conditions have made it difficult to re-establish vegetation and produce crops there. Recently, a significant body of work has focussed on the suitability and potentiality of biochar as a soil remediation tool that increases seed emergence, soil and crop productivity, above ground biomass, and vegetation cover on mine tailings, waste rock piles, and industrial and sewage waste-contaminated soils by increasing soil nutrients and water-holding capacity, amelioration of soil acidity, and stimulation of microbial diversity and functions. This review addresses: i) the functional properties of biochar, and microbial cycling of nutrients in soil; ii) bioremediation, especially phytoremediation of mine tailings, industrial waste, sewage sludge, and contaminated soil using biochar; iii) impact of biochar on reduction of acid production, acid mine drainage treatment, and geochemical dynamics in mine tailings; and iv) treatment of metal and organic contaminants in soils using biochar, and restoration of degraded land.