A 12-month field trial to remediate an exposed 'tailings beach' in Tasmania

Fergusson, Lee (2014) A 12-month field trial to remediate an exposed 'tailings beach' in Tasmania. Resources and Environment, 4 (5). pp. 238-245. ISSN 2163-2618


The King River is one of the most polluted rivers in Australia; it has been predicted that acid mine drainage
will be produced in the river for several hundred years, with 2.0 tonnes of copper and 155 kg of sulfuric acid entering the river system each day. Reversing the damaging effects of dumped tailings on this scale is financially and operationally impossible; the only hope for recovery is natural weathering and, where possible, interventions that raise pH and reduce contaminants entering the system, thereby allowing revegetation of the exposed “tailings beach”. Drawing from descriptive, empirical and photographic evidence, this study documents the findings of a 12-month field trial conducted in the King River delta. Treatment of tailings included applications to areas of contaminated tailings: Area #1, control; Area #2, lime
and fertilizer; Area #3, soil; Area #4, sand; and Area #5, Terra B; each area was seeded using local tree species, with
vegetative cover density and type the main criteria of successful remediation. Evidence suggests lime and fertilizer, and soil and sand amendments had no effect on tree growth after 12 months; the control and these amended areas did not support revegetation. However Area #5 had a pH of 3.9 before and 7.9 after treatment, and leachable metals had been reduced by an average 88%, with total actual and potential acidity reduced to zero. Every type of plant tree species thrived in the more favourable pH conditions, and grass self-seeded and proliferated after 12 months. These findings suggest a potentially fertile area for future research, and possible solution to the ongoing acidification of tailings and risks associated with
airborne dust from the King River delta.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: © 2014 Scientific & Academic Publishing. All Rights Reserved.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Date Deposited: 22 Aug 2018 05:18
Last Modified: 14 Sep 2021 05:54
Uncontrolled Keywords: King River, Tasmania, tailings, remediation, revegetation
Fields of Research (2008): 05 Environmental Sciences > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050205 Environmental Management
Fields of Research (2020): 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410404 Environmental management
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): D Environment > 96 Environment > 9609 Land and Water Management > 960908 Mining Land and Water Management
Identification Number or DOI: https://doi.org/10.5923/j.re.20140405.05
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/34592

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