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Application of biochar on mine tailings: Effects and perspectives for land reclamation

TitleApplication of biochar on mine tailings: Effects and perspectives for land reclamation
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsFellet, G., Marchiol L., Vedove Delle, and Peressotti A.
Date Published04/2011 online

Mine tailings represent a source of toxic pollutants, mainly heavy metals, which may spread to the surrounding areas. Phytostabilization, a long-term and cost-effective rehabilitation strategy, can be achieved by promoting the establishment of vegetation to reduce the risk of pollutant transfer. In this work, the application of pyrolyzed biomass (biochar) was studied to evaluate the amelioration of the mine tailings properties for potential use as a phytostabilization technology.

Four substrates were obtained by mixing the mine tailings from a dumping site in Cave del Predil (NE, Italy) with biochar from orchard prune residues at four dosages (0%, 1%, 5% and 10% biochar in the mine tailings). The physical and chemical properties were determined and the bioavailability and leachability of the contaminants were estimated. The pH, the nutrient retention in terms of cation exchange capacity and the water-holding capacity increased as the biochar content increased in the substrates and the bioavailability of Cd, Pb, Tl and Zn of the mine tailings decreased. The changes promoted by the biochar seem to be in favor of its use on mine wastes to help the establishment of a green cover in a phytostabilization process.