Application of organic and mineral amendments to reduce metal mobility and revegetate acidic mine tailings

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Gustavo Adolfo Gutiérrez-Fernández, Christina Desiree Siebe-Grabach

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Mexico has millions of tons of abandoned tailings throughout the country. Biochar is an interesting candidate to aid in tailing stabilization due to its properties. Gasification and Kon-Tiki oven pyrolysis are technologically-contrasting ways to produce low-cost biochar from various feedstocks. However, nutrient-poor tailings require a source of nutrients usually not provided by biochar. Compost is an organic alternative to provide said nutrients. A 6-month pot experiment sown with ryegrass was conducted using a pH 2 mine tailing mixed with organic amendments (gasification and pyrolysis biochar and three types of compost and co-compost) in 7 and 30% doses with or without added dolomite to attain a pH of 6. The objective was to evaluate biochar-based organic amendments’ potential to improve the substrate’s properties to favor the establishment of a vegetative cover and to reduce metal mobility (As, Cd, Cr, Cu, Ni, Zn) and uptake. Biochar and compost alone reduced metal mobility though this reduction was greater in the presence of dolomite. Grass germinated only in the presence of dolomite even without organics, though development was greater in the presence of organics and increased with increasing dose. Leaching of irrigation water was lower in treatments with dolomite as a result of vegetative development. Biomass gasification and composting of organic wastes may be a suitable alternative to obtain carbon-negative energy, effectively manage organic wastes and produce organic amendments suitable for use in land reclamation upon mine closure, reducing metal mobility and aiding in the physical stabilization of materials.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

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