Soil scientists use mining waste to restore manmade wasteland | 6/14/2018 | Staff
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Soil scientists and chemists from RUDN University, together with colleagues from the Kola Science Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences, have developed and tested a method of ecosystem restoration in the sub-Arctic technogenic wasteland contaminated by the waste of non-ferrous metallurgy enterprises. The technology is based on the use of mining waste capable of neutralizing toxic metal compounds for plants. The study involved scientists from different fields of natural sciences—geochemistry, soil science, microbiology and ecology. The article is published in the journal International Soil and Water Conservation Research.

Industrial processing of ore and smelting of non-ferrous metals leads to contamination of the soil with copper, nickel, zinc and lead. In high concentrations, these are dangerous for humans and the environment. Heavily contaminated soils lose fertility, and vegetation and soil biota are killed and degraded. As a result, water and wind erosion increases and such regions become human-made wastelands. The world's largest human-made wastelands are located in the Russian Arctic, where large deposits of non-ferrous metals and metallurgical enterprises are located; these northern environments are extremely sensitive to anthropogenic influences.

Field - Experiment - Use - Alkaline - Mining

A field experiment on the use of alkaline mining waste for the restoration of human-made wastelands in the Murmansk region was started by scientists from the Kola Science Center. A few years later, in 2010, it was continued by soil scientists of RUDN University.

On the site of the wasteland, located 1.5 kilometers from the plant for processing sulfide copper-nickel ores, scientists have created technosols consisting of two layers: the upper layer is hydroponic vermiculite, which is able to retain moisture and promote plant growth; the lower consists of waste containing carbonates and silicates of calcium and magnesium. Nearby control areas were created without adding a layer of waste, and the plants died during the first year of the experiment because of the...
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