Fungi can rehabilitate barren mine waste dumpsite - study

A technology that can bring back life to a once barren mine waste dumpsite has been proven viable.

The technology entails the inoculation of forest trees with the versatile fungi Mycorrhiza before these are planted in once degraded areas.

It made wonders on the mine waste dumpsite of the Manila Mining Corp. (MMC) in Placer, Surigao del Norte, as attested by results of a research and development (R&D) project conducted jointly by the MMC and Department of Environment and Natural Resources CARAGA Ecosystems Research and Development Service (DENR-CARAGA-ERDS).

Undertaken under the leadership of DENR Regional Executive Director Edilberto Buiser and co-implemented by Regional Technical Director Jeremias Bauzon and Divinagracia Peregrino, the R&D project aimed to rehabilitate MMC’s waste dumpsite in Placer.

The corporation has been operating since 1979. In 1982, it operated in an open-pit mining. Consequently, 5.31 hectares were used as waste dump area.

Since the dumpsite is characterized by a mountainous and hilly terrain, it is prone to soil erosion. The threat of acidic runoff, especially during the rainy season, is great because the area has very loose soil and rock fragments.

Erosion can also lead to siltation of nearby rivers, streams, and coastal areas, on which fisherfolk rely for their livelihood.

This led Buiser’s team to come up with a project beneficial to surrounding communities.

To rehabilitate the dump area, the team established a plantation of nitrogen-fixing trees and used the fungi Mycorrhiza, which are known for their extraordinary capacity for growing and surviving stress periods.

The DENR-CARAGA-ERDS project used two soil-based biological fertilizers, Mycogroe and Mykovam. When inoculated to seedlings, these biofertilizers are absorbed through the roots and in turn help the plant absorb water and nutrients, prevent root infections, and increase plant tolerance.

For the project, narra, rain tree (acacia), mahogany, falcate, and auri were inoculated with Mycogroe before these were planted in the degraded area. Liming and incorporation of humus soil were also resorted to improve the acidic and nutrient-deficient soil.

Of the five-hectare degraded site, three hectares have been planted to trees that are now starting to add green cover to the former dumpsite.

The project won recently the bronze medal of the prestigious Green Apple Award for Environmental Best Practices given by the England-based Green Organization, an independent environment group founded in 1954 to recognize undertakings that help improve the environment.

For receiving the award, the project merits publication in the Green Book, the world’s only annual work of reference on environmental best practices. (philstar.com)

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