, Volume 118, Issue 5, pp 597-608
Date: 17 Nov 2009

Eco-restoration of a high-sulphur coal mine overburden dumping site in northeast India: A case study

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Eco-restoration of mine overburden (OB) or abandoned mine sites is a major environmental concern. In the present investigation, an integrated approach was used to rejuvenate a high-sulphur mine OB dumping site in the Tirap Collieries, Assam, India, which is situated in the Indo-Burma mega-biodiversity hotspot. A mine OB is devoid of true soil character with poor macro and micronutrient content and contains elevated concentrations of trace and heavy metals. Planting of herbs, shrubs, cover crops and tree species at close proximity leads to primary and secondary sere state succession within a period of 3 to 5 years. A variety of plant species were screened for potential use in restoration: herbs, including Sccharum spontaneum, Cymbopogon winterianus Jowitt (citronella), and Cymbopogon flexuosus (lemon grass) cover plants, including Mimosa strigillosa, M. striata, and M. pigra; shrubs, including Sesbania rostrata (dhaincha) and Cassia streata (cassia); and tree species, including Gmelina arborea (gomari) and Dalbergia sissoo (sissoo). Amendment with unmined soil and bio-organic matter was required for primary establishment of some plant species. Management of these plant species at the site will ensure long term sustainable eco-restoration of the coal mine-degraded land.