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Sci Total Environ. 2014 Jan 15;468-469:1162-71. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2013.09.024. Epub 2013 Oct 31.

Mine spoil acts as a sink of carbon dioxide in Indian dry tropical environment.

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Central Institute of Mining and Fuel Research, Dhanbad, India.


Economically important mining operations have adverse environmental impacts: top soil, subsoil and overburden are relocated; resulting mine spoils constitute an unaesthetic landscape and biologically sterile or compromised habitat, and act as source of pollutants with respect to air dust, heavy metal contamination to soil and water bodies. Where such spoils are revegetated, however, they can act as a significant sink for atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) through combined plant succession and soil formation. Revegetation, drainage, reprofiling and proper long term management practices help recapture carbon, improve soil quality and restore the soil organic matter content. A survey along an age gradient of revegetated mine spoils of 19 years in Singrauli, India by the authors showed an accumulation of total C in total plant biomass, mine soil and soil microbial biomass by 44.5, 22.9 and 1.8 t/ha, respectively. There was an increase in total sequestered C by 712% in revegetated mine spoils after 19 years, which can be translated into annual C sequestration potential of 3.64 t Cha(-1) yr(-1). Carbon sequestered in revegetated mine spoil is equivalent to 253.96 tonnes/ha capture of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2). This indicates that mine spoil can act as a significant sink for atmospheric CO2. Annual C budget indicated 8.40 t Cha(-1) yr(-1) accumulation in which 2.14 t/ha was allocated to above ground biomass, 0.31 t/ha in belowground biomass, 2.88 t/ha in litter mass and 1.35 t/ha in mine soil. This shows that litter mass allocation is much important in the revegetated site. Decomposition of root and litter mass contributes C storage in the mine soil. Therefore, revegetation of mine soils is an important management option for mitigation of the negative impacts of mining and enhancing carbon sequestration in mine spoils.


C sequestration; Coal mining; Mine spoils; Natural recovery; Revegetation; Soil rebuilt

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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