Could stem cuttings of Salix planifolia be used for reclamation of mine waste rock from northern regions? A greenhouse study with iron waste rock from Schefferville

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Roudy Jean, Damase P. Khasa, Stéphane Boudreau

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The iron ore mining operation in Schefferville (Québec, Canada) produces a large volume of mine waste rock requiring active reclamation. As willow species are often used for the reclamation of such mine tailings, our objective was to develop an approach using stem cuttings of Salix planifolia for the reclamation of these waste rocks. Firstly, in a greenhouse experiment, we assessed the survival and performance of S. planifolia cuttings planted horizontally and vertically in overburden and waste rock from Schefferville. Peat moss was used as a control substrate. After 7 weeks, we observed that cuttings planted in overburden and peat moss had greater survival, higher shoot production and biomass than the ones in waste rock. Also, horizontal cuttings had a greater survival than the vertical ones. Based on the results of this first experiment, we conducted a second experiment with stem cuttings inoculated with Heliotiales sp, Meliniomyces sp, and Phialocephala fortinii isolated from the roots of S. planifolia and planted horizontally in sterilized and not sterilized waste rock. After 15 weeks, root length and biomass as well as aboveground biomass were significantly higher for the cuttings inoculated with the three fungal isolates compared to the control ones. These promising results are important for the reclamation of the mine waste rock from Schefferville region. Horizontal planting of stem cuttings of S. planifolia with native endophytic fungi could initiate plant colonization on these substrates. However, additional studies are needed to better understand how endophytic fungi promote the performance of S. planifolia cuttings.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program