Main content area

Desulphurized tailings serve as a useful soil supplement for mine reclamation

Carson, Allan W., Rutherford, P. Michael, Burton, Philip J.
Canadian journal of plant science 2014 v.94 no.4 pp. 529-541
adverse effects, beef cattle, cation exchange capacity, cations, copper, culture media, feeds, fertilizer application, fertilizers, heavy metals, mine tailings, molybdenum, plant growth, plant tissues, sand, vegetation, British Columbia
Carson, A. W., Rutherford, P. M. and Burton, P. J. 2014. Desulphurized tailings serve as a useful soil supplement for mine reclamation. Can. J. Soil Sci. 94: 529–541. Soil is often in limited supply for use in mine reclamation activities; it may be necessary to build soils (Anthroposols) using locally available substrates. Eight test plots were established at Huckleberry Mine, Houston, BC, to investigate soil properties and evaluate the performance and metal uptake of plants established on stockpiled soils that were or were not supplemented with non-acid generating sand (NAGS) and fertilizer. Concentrations of total and extractable trace elements (including base metals) were lower in NAGS-supplemented soils than in non-supplemented soils. Supplementing soils with NAGS reduced cation exchange capacity and exchangeable base cations, yet plant performance was not significantly lower than that observed in non-supplemented soils. When combined with a fertilizer application, plant performance on NAGS-supplemented soils significantly increased. For heavy metals analyzed in plant tissues, only molybdenum (Mo) concentrations exceeded the National Research Council’s (NRC) recommended maxima for beef cattle. The copper (Cu):Mo ratio for all treatments was above a suggested adverse-health threshold value for ruminant feeds (with lesser values leading to adverse health effects). The use of NAGS (combined with fertilizer) as a supplement to stockpiled mine soil can increase the quantity of growth media for reclamation and is not expected to have any adverse effects on plant growth or the metal content in above-ground vegetation.