Fast-Growing Willow Development on Acidic Mining Wastes for Rapid Greening Purposes

Fast-Growing Willow Development on Acidic Mining Wastes for Rapid Greening Purposes

M. Guittonny-Larchevêque A. Dallaire  S. Lortie 

Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Canada

Westwood mine, Canada

30 September 2016
| Citation



Metal mining generates large volumes of wastes, which can contain sulphide minerals that generate acid when exposed to atmospheric conditions, providing unfavourable conditions for plant establishment. In particular, mining waste rocks are piled on tens of meters, and remain devoid of vegetation, creating a desolated anthropogenic landscape. The use of adapted plants able to grow quickly on waste rocks can help increasing their aesthetical aspect. An experiment was conducted at the Westwood mine in Quebec to evaluate the establishment ability of a fast-growing willow (Salix miyabeana Sx64) on acid-generating waste rocks. The main objective was to identify substrate thickness and composition that maximized willow productivity while limiting water stress exposure and trace metal accumulation. A randomized complete block design was established in June 2014 with five treatments: (1) direct planting in waste rocks, (2) and (3) 20 cm or 40 cm moraine amended with 20% of organic matter (OM) (in volume), (4) 20 cm moraine at 40% of OM, and (5) 20 cm moraine at 20% of OM over 20 cm lime sludge from water treatment. Trees directly planted in waste rocks survived well (75%) but had the lowest aerial productivity, with the lowest height and diameter growth, aerial biomass, and total leaf area, while the treatment richer in OM showed the greatest aerial biomass and total leaf area, and the thicker treatment the greatest height and diameter growth. Willow root development was restricted to cover soils the first year after planting, and foliar δ13C values decreased in thicker soil (40 cm) compared to thin soil (20 cm). Willow accumulation factors in leaves were below one for all investigated trace metals except Zn.


aerial productivity, lime sludge, mine revegetation, phytostabilization, root development, soil cover, trace metals, water stress


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