Fitoestab – identification of rhizosphere microbiota for the phytoremediation of nickel-copper mine tailings

CIM Montreal 2015
Samuel Toledo (Ambiotek Corp.), Claudia Ortiz (Ambiotek SpA), Emily Smenderovac (Vale Living with Lakes Centre, Laurentian University), Nathan Basiliko (Vale Living with Lakes Centre, Laurentian University), Nadia Mykytczuk (Vale Living with Lakes Centre, Laurentian University), Daniel Campbell (Vale Living with Lakes Centre, Laurentian University)
Mining processes leave behind large extensions of mine tailings composed of fine particles with metal-containing minerals. Mine tailings particles can be a source of harmful metals, which are dispersed through a combination of wind and water erosion. Mine closure regulatory bodies and local communities in Canada, Chile and other mining districts are demanding that mining companies address these impacts through stabilizing and reclaiming the tailings with long term environmentally friendly solutions. Phytostabilization is a low cost process to stabilize and remediate mine tailings.

Ambiotek has developed Fitoestab, a phytostabilization methodology that uses in-situ plants and microbial consortia in their rhizosphere to stabilize and improve physicochemical characteristics of the tailings. Fitoestab has been implemented in Chile at around half the cost of conventional approaches. Ambiotek and researchers at Laurentian University, with support of Ontario Genomics Institute, are conducting initial research to develop a new approach for humid, cold climate regions such as Canada. Several analyses are being performed on samples around Sudbury in order to assess the microbial composition of the rhizosphere of northern Ontario plant communities residing on nickel mine tailings. Using a molecular approach, the project aims to identify microorganisms in the rhizosphere of plants colonizing the tailings, to determine the effect of the microbiota on the amelioration of the detrimental characteristics of these substrates.
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