Can we kick-start mining rehabilitation with cyanobacterial crusts?

Can we kick-start mining rehabilitation with cyanobacterial crusts? Conference Paper

16th Australian Rangeland Society Biennial Conference

  • Author(s): Doudle, S., Williams, W.J.
  • Published: 2010
  • Publisher: Australian Rangeland Society

Abstract: A heavy mineral sand mine has commenced operations on the eastern edge of the Nullarbor Plain, South Australia. This area has low annual rainfall and frequent drought, resulting in challenges in relation to rehabilitation. The soil is fragile and prone to wind erosion during, and, following disturbance. Prior to disturbance, the soil surface is well stabilized by cyanobacterial soil crusts and chenopod dominated vegetation. The ecosystem benefits of cyanobacterial crusts include surface soil stabilisation and reduction in wind and water erosion, increased water infiltration, nitrogen and carbon fixation. Beginning the rehabilitation process with a cyanobacterial crust may therefore offer the soil protection, as well as the start of biological processes that survive harsh conditions due to their ability to deactivate and reactivate according to seasonal conditions. Using cyanobacteria as a kickstart for mining rehabilitation is not commonplace practice in the Australian rangelands. A new research program is underway with the University of Queensland to assess the potential for using components of the cyanobacterial soil crust to stabilise soil stockpiles and rehabilitated land surfaces.

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Doudle, S., Williams, W.J., 2010, Can we kick-start mining rehabilitation with cyanobacterial crusts?, Conference Paper, viewed 13 August 2022,

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