Evaluation of pyritic mine tailings as a plant growth substrate

Roseby, Stuart J., Kopittke, Peter M., Mulligan, David R. and Menzies, Neal W. (2017) Evaluation of pyritic mine tailings as a plant growth substrate. Journal of Environmental Management, 201 207-214. doi:10.1016/j.jenvman.2017.06.046

Author Roseby, Stuart J.
Kopittke, Peter M.
Mulligan, David R.
Menzies, Neal W.
Title Evaluation of pyritic mine tailings as a plant growth substrate
Journal name Journal of Environmental Management   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1095-8630
Publication date 2017-10-01
Year available 2017
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.jenvman.2017.06.046
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 201
Start page 207
End page 214
Total pages 8
Place of publication London, United Kingdom
Publisher Academic Press
Language eng
Subject 2305 Environmental Engineering
2311 Waste Management and Disposal
2308 Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
Abstract At the Kidston gold mine, Australia, the direct establishment of vegetation on tailings was considered as an alternative to the use of a waste rock cover. The tailings acid/base account was used to predict plant growth limitation by acidity, and thus methods capable of identifying tailings that would acidify to pH 4.5 or lower were sought Total S was found to be poorly correlated with acid-generating sulfide, and total C was poorly correlated with acid-neutralizing carbonate, precluding the use of readily determined total S and C as predictors of net acid generation. Therefore, the selected approach used assessment of sulfide content as a predictor of acid generation, and carbonate content as a measure of the acid neutralizing capacity available at pH 5 and above. Using this approach, the majority of tailings (67%) were found to be non-acid generating. However, areas of potentially acid-generating tailings were randomly distributed across the dam, and could only be located by intensive sampling. The limitations imposed by the large sample numbers, and costly analysis of sulfide and carbonate, make it impractical to identify and ameliorate acid-generating areas prior to vegetation establishment. However, as only a small proportion of the tailings will acidify, a strategy of re-treating acid areas following oxidation is suggested. The findings of the present study will assist in the selection of appropriate methods for the prediction of net acid generation, particularly where more conservative measurements are required to allow vegetation to be established directly in tailings. (C) 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keyword Acid mine drainage
Acid-neutralizing capacity
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Grant ID FT120100277
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Centre for Mined Land Rehabilitation Publications
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School of Agriculture and Food Sciences
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