Bauxite residue is a high volume, alkaline waste produced by the alumina industry. Sustainable management strategies for waste depositories are imperative to prevent environmental risk and to rehabilitate the land. Our latest paper in the leading journal Environmental Science and Technology shows how simple amendment of the alkaline, saline metal-rich residue with a layer of sand, organic matter and appropriate plant seeds can lead to a sustained healthy chemical environment for vegetation communities to thrive nearly 2 decades after initial treatment. The effectiveness of the surface amendment extends well below surface layers and provides conditions for resilient biological communities to develop, which adjust pH, lower salinity and lower mobility of potentially problematic metals. The work shows that simple, low-cost interventions can have lasting effects and minimise the environmental risks of this globally important waste, as well as returning waste sites to rehabilitated, functioning ecosystems.
The link to the paper can be found here and will soon be available open access.