Water, Air, and Soil Pollution

, Volume 175, Issue 1–4, pp 149–161 | Cite as

The Effects of Platinum Mining on the Environment from a Soil Microbial Perspective

  • M. S. Maboeta
  • S. Claassens
  • L. van Rensburg
  • P. J. Jansen van Rensburg
Article

Abstract

Environmental pressure from mining activities such as those from the platinum sector occurs through the fine-grounded slurry from the processing plants, with its associated extracting chemicals that reach the tailings disposal facility (TDF). It is important that the effects of these activities on the environment are examined, especially in South Africa where there is a general paucity on data pertaining to pollution from platinum mining. The aim of this study was to do a preliminary assessment of the possible effects of platinum TDFs on the surrounding soil environment from a microbial perspective that might be used as a possible indicator in future environmental assessment studies. This was achieved by using enzymatic analyses (β-glucosidase, urease, phosphatase and dehydrogenase activity) and signature lipid biomarkers.

From a soil physical perspective there was a significant difference between the soil at the TDF site in comparison to the sites situated further along (increasing distances away from TDF) the area investigated. Chemically the soil on the TDF had higher C, N, NH4 and K levels in comparison to the other sampling sites as well as higher Cu and Ni levels. Results from the enzymatic activities indicated a decrease in activity further away from the TDF although the sampling site the furthest away from the TDF had the highest viable biomass as indicated by the phospholipid fatty acids (PLFA’s).

Keywords

enzymatic activity phospholipid fatty acids (PLFAs) platinum mining platinum tailings 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. S. Maboeta
    • 1
  • S. Claassens
    • 1
  • L. van Rensburg
    • 1
  • P. J. Jansen van Rensburg
    • 1
  1. 1.School for Environmental Sciences and DevelopmentNorth-West UniversityPotchefstroomSouth Africa

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