Soil Amelioration Potential of Legumes for Mine Tailings
Justine Perry T. Domingo* and Carlos Primo C. David
Environment Monitoring Laboratory, National Institute of Geological Sciences,
University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines
Substrate fertility is an important constraint in the revegetation of active mining and mined out areas. In particular, the physical and chemical properties of tailings materials preclude any sustainable vegetation cover; more so if the usual practice of planting tree seedlings are used. Focus should first be given to transforming the tailings material into a more viable material for plant growth. This research tested the potential of two legume species, Centrosema molle and Calopogonium mucunoides, in the transformation of the tailings material and in the establishment of vegetation. Improvement in the levels of phosphorus and organic matter was observed in the legume-planted material after 4 months, while heavy metals including copper, arsenic, and cadmium have undergone significant reduction. Results suggest that these species could be effectively used to improve the soil conditions in abandoned mine areas and tailings dumps.
Mining, an important global industry, is often associated with the destruction of the environment (Ye et al. 2001). Impact of mining on the overlying ecosystem is caused by processes involved, such as the extraction of resources, removal of unwanted materials, and disposal of waste products. In particular, waste material from mine and ore processing operations, referred to as mine tailings, have a major impact on the environment (Bleeker et al. 2002) due to its high heavy metal concentration (Shu et al. 2001), nutrient deficiency (Wong 2003), and low water retention capacity (Ernst 1996). These factors inhibit vegetation establishment in tailings, thus leaving their surfaces bare and completely exposed to erosion agents (Conesa et al. 2007). There is a further risk of polluting soil and water due to erosion and leaching of contaminated material (Bleeker et al. 2002). Additionally, these sites are also very unpleasant aesthetically to the landscape (Tordoff et al. 2000). Such environmental consequences remain beyond the lifetime of a mining operation, particularly in the case of abandoned . . . . . . . . .
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