Ecological Research

, Volume 33, Issue 4, pp 767–775 | Cite as

Chemico-mineralogical changes of ultramafic topsoil during stockpiling: implications for post-mining restoration

  • Celestino Quintela-Sabarís
  • Laurent L’Huillier
  • Liane-Clarisse Mouchon
  • Emmanuelle Montargès-Pelletier
  • Guillaume Echevarria
Special Feature Ultramafic Ecosystems: Proceedings of the 9th International Conference on Serpentine Ecology


Lateritic topsoils, which are usually removed and stored apart before mining operations take place, play an essential role in the success of post-mining restoration. They contain elements to recover chemical (organic matter, nutrients) and biological (seed and bud banks, microorganisms) fertility of the soil. Conserving topsoil fertility during storage time is essential for a successful use of topsoil during restoration. In this study, different chemico-mineralogical properties of a lateritic topsoil from the Goro nickel mine (New Caledonia) were monitored from its original in situ emplacement on the soil profile, immediately after its stockpiling and after 24 months of storage. Our analyses show that topsoil experienced noticeable changes immediately after storage, mostly produced by mixing of different soil profiles. Cation Exchange Capacities and concentrations of most elements did not vary even after 24 months of storage. However, a slight reduction of Ni, Cr, K, Na and of the C:N ratio, and an increase of Ca have been observed. Stockpiling has not affected negatively the chemical fertility of the topsoil, although biological parameters should be considered to have a complete view of stockpiling sustainability.


Cation exchange capacity Laterites New Caledonia Organic matter Topsoil stockpiling 



This research has been funded by Centre National de Recherche Tecnique (CNRT) “Nickel and its Environment”, New Caledonia (BIOTOP project). Celestino Quintela-Sabarís is funded by a Postdoctoral contract financed by the French National Research Agency through the national program “Investissements d’avenir” with the reference ANR-10-LABX-21-01/LABEX RESSOURCES21. The collaboration of Bruno Fogliani (Institue Agronomique Néo-Calédonien) and Hamid Amir (Laboratoire Insulaire du Vivant et de l’Environnement, Université de Nouvelle-Calédonie) is warmly acknowledged. Vale NC is acknowledged for providing support and access to the sites.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (PDF 14 kb)


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Copyright information

© The Ecological Society of Japan 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratoire Sols et EnvironnementUMR 1120, Université de Lorraine-INRAVandoeuvre-les-NancyFrance
  2. 2.Institut Agronomique de Nouvelle-Calédonie (IAC), Equipe Sols et VégétationPaïtaNew Caledonia
  3. 3.Laboratoire Interdisciplinaire des Environnements ContinentauxUMR 7360, CNRS, Université de LorraineVandoeuvre-les-NancyFrance

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