Utilization of Biowaste for Mine Spoil Rehabilitation

H. Wijesekara, N. S. Bolan, M. Vithanage, Y. Xu, S. Mandal, S. L. Brown, G. M. Hettiarachchi, G. M. Pierzynski, L. Huang, Y. S. Ok, M. B. Kirkham, C. P. Saint, A. Surapaneni

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

36 Citations (Scopus)


Globally, around 0.4 × 106 km2 area of land is estimated to be disturbed by mining activities, thereby contributing to severe environmental consequences including the generation of large amounts of mine spoils. The shortfall in topsoil due to poor striping practices and low levels of organic matter have been identified as common problems in rehabilitation of mining spoil. High heavy metal concentrations in mine spoil can adversely impact microbial activity and subsequent revegetation succession. The release of acids associated with mine spoils (ie, acid mine drainage through oxidation of pyrite) can also create adverse effects on the surrounding vegetation. Large quantities of biowaste, such as manure compost, biosolids, and municipal solid waste (MSW) that are low in contaminants [including metal(loid)s] can be used to rehabilitate mine spoils. These biowastes provide a source of nutrients and improve the fertility of spoils. These biowastes also act as a sink for metal(loid)s in mine tailings reducing their bioavailability through adsorption, complexation, reduction, and volatilization of metal(loid)s. This review provides an overview of the sources of biowastes and the current regulations for utilization; describes their benefits in terms of improving the physical, chemical, and biological properties of mine spoils; and elaborates on the role of the utilization of biowastes on mine spoil rehabilitation through several case studies. Finally, future research needs and strategies are identified in terms of sustainable biowaste utilization in mine spoil rehabilitation.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvances in Agronomy
PublisherAcademic Press Inc.
Number of pages77
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameAdvances in Agronomy
ISSN (Print)0065-2113

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was partly supported by Australia Research Council Discovery-Projects (DP140100323). Funding for the first author's writing and editing time was provided by the International President's Scholarship from the University of South Australia. This review paper is one of the outcomes of the research project on “Carbon sequestration from land application of biosolids.” We would like to thank South East Water (Dr Aravind Surapaneni), Western Water (William Rajendran), Gippsland Water (Mark Heffernan), City West Water (Sean Hanrahan), Yarra Valley Water (Andrew Schunke), and Cleanaway Organics (Chris Hetherington) for supporting this research project. The authors would like to acknowledge graduate research assistants at the Department of Agronomy, Kansas State University, Luke Baker, and Vindhya Gudichuttu, who diligently spent long hours in the laboratory preparing and analyzing samples as part of their PhD and MS research work, respectively. The authors would also like to acknowledge Ms Joanne Limpus O’Reilly for the research work during her MSc at the Massey University, New Zealand.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier Inc.

Copyright 2018 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • biosolids
  • biowaste
  • mine spoil
  • rehabilitation
  • tailings

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Soil Science


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