Amendment-Assisted Revegetation of Mine Tailings: Improvement of Tailings Quality and Biomass Production


Mining activities have left a legacy of metals containing tailings impoundments. After mine closure, reclamation of mine wastes can be achieved by restoration of a vegetation cover. This study investigated the impact of biochar (BC), biosolids (BS), humic substances (HS), and mycorrhizal fungi (MF) for improving mine tailings fertility and hydraulic properties, supporting plant establishment, tailings revegetation, and enabling growth of energy crops. We conducted a pot trial by growing willow, poplar, and miscanthus in Pb/Zn/Cu mine tailings untreated or amended with two rates of amendments (low or high input). Biosolids resulted in the most significant changes in tailings properties, neutralizing pH and increasing organic carbon, nutrient concentrations, cation exchange capacity, water retention, and saturated hydraulic conductivity. The greatest increase in energy crops production was also observed in BS treatments enabling the financial viability of mine reclamation. Although BC resulted in significant improvements in tailings fertility and hydraulic properties, its impact on biomass was less pronounced, most likely due to lower N and P available concentrations. Increases in willow and miscanthus biomass were observed in HS and MF treatments in spite of their lower nutrient content. A pot experiment is underway to assess synergistic effects of combining BS with BC, HS, or MF.


Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering


This study was funded in part by the Doe Run Company.

Keywords and Phrases

Mine tailings; mycorrhizal fungi; nutrient; organic amendments; revegetation

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

1522-6514; 1549-7879

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


File Type





© 2019 Taylor & Francis Inc., All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Apr 2019

PubMed ID