Current status and challenges in developing nickel phytomining: an agronomic perspective

Nkrumah, Philip Nti, Baker, Alan J. M., Chaney, Rufus L., Erskine, Peter D., Echevarria, Guillaume, Morel, Jean Louis and van der Ent, Antony (2016) Current status and challenges in developing nickel phytomining: an agronomic perspective. Plant And Soil, 406 1-2: 55-69. doi:10.1007/s11104-016-2859-4

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Author Nkrumah, Philip Nti
Baker, Alan J. M.
Chaney, Rufus L.
Erskine, Peter D.
Echevarria, Guillaume
Morel, Jean Louis
van der Ent, Antony
Title Current status and challenges in developing nickel phytomining: an agronomic perspective
Journal name Plant And Soil   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1573-5036
Publication date 2016-03-19
Year available 2016
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1007/s11104-016-2859-4
Open Access Status File (Author Post-print)
Volume 406
Issue 1-2
Start page 55
End page 69
Total pages 15
Place of publication Dordrecht, Netherlands
Publisher Springer Netherlands
Collection year 2017
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Background: Nickel (Ni) phytomining operations cultivate hyperaccumulator plants (‘metal crops’) on Ni-rich (ultramafic) soils, followed by harvesting and incineration of the biomass to produce a high-grade ‘bio-ore’ from which Ni metal or pure Ni salts are recovered.

Scope: This review examines the current status, progress and challenges in the development of Ni phytomining agronomy since the first field trial over two decades ago. To date, the agronomy of less than 10 species has been tested, while most research focussed on Alyssum murale and A. corsicum. Nickel phytomining trials have so far been undertaken in Albania, Canada, France, Italy, New Zealand, Spain and USA using ultramafic or Ni-contaminated soils with 0.05–1 % total Ni.

Conclusions: N, P and K fertilisation significantly increases the biomass of Ni hyperaccumulator plants, and causes negligible dilution in shoot Ni concentration. Organic matter additions have pronounced positive effects on the biomass of Ni hyperaccumulator plants, but may reduce shoot Ni concentration. Soil pH adjustments, S additions, N fertilisation, and bacterial inoculation generally increase Ni phytoavailability, and consequently, Ni yield in ‘metal crops’. Calcium soil amendments are necessary because substantial amounts of Ca are removed through the harvesting of ‘bio-ore’. Organic amendments generally improve the physical properties of ultramafic soil, and soil moisture has a pronounced positive effect on Ni yield. Repeated ‘metal crop’ harvesting depletes soil phytoavailable Ni, but also promotes transfer of non-labile soil Ni to phytoavailable forms. Traditional chemical soil extractants used to estimate phytoavailability of trace elements are of limited use to predict Ni phytoavailability to ‘metal crop’ species and hence Ni uptake.
Keyword Agronomy
Annual Ni yield
Biomass production
Economic Ni phytomining
Ni hyperaccumulator plants
Ultramafic soils
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: HERDC Pre-Audit
Sustainable Minerals Institute Publications
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Created: Thu, 24 Mar 2016, 19:18:30 EST by Mr Antony Van Der Ent on behalf of Centre For Mined Land Rehabilitation