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Floristic composition of gold and uranium tailings dams, and adja­cent polluted areas, on South Africa’s deep-level mines

By I. M. Weiersbye, E. T. F. Witkowski and M. Reichardt

Abstract

Gold and uranium tailings (‘slimes’) dams and the adjacent polluted soils in the deep-level mining regions of South Africa <br />(Carletonville, Klerksdorp and Welkom) were surveyed for the frequency of occurrence of naturally colonizing, actively <br />introduced and persisting plant species. Fifty-six tailings dams with a combined area of 5864 ha. and a similar area o f tail- <br />ings-polluted soils, were surveyed between July 1996 and March 1997. During the survey, 376 plant species and subspecies <br />were recorded from the dams and adjacent polluted soils, with an additional  8 6  records obtained between 1998 and 2003 (i.e. <br />a total of 462 taxa: species and infraspecific species). Overall, the most commonly represented families were the Poaceae (107 <br />species and subspecies), Asteraceae (81). Fabaceae (55) and Anacardiaceae (16). with other families represented by just one <br />to 14 species. Only 60 species were common to all three regions, and of these 24 had been introduced during rehabilitation <br />attempts. Most of the species found on tailings were persisters or natural colonizers (53-88%, depending on substrate), with <br />the vast majority being indigenous and perennial taxa (76% and 85% respectively), with semi-woody to woody growth forms <br />(6 6% being resprouters, forbs, shrubs and trees). Less than 4% of the naturally-colonizing taxa found during the survey had <br />also been introduced by vegetation practitioners. The majority of introduced plants were alien herbaceous taxa. The number <br />and frequency of annuals was only high on recently vegetated sites, whereas annuals were rarely present on old-vegetated and <br />never-vegetated dams. This list includes a wide range of indigenous plant species that may be suitable for phytoremediation of tailings dams and polluted soils due to their apparent tolerance of acid mine drainage and salinity

Topics: acid mine drainage (AMD), mine rehabilitation, natural plant establishment, pyrite tailings, slimes dams, tailings storage facilities (TSFs), vegetation survey, General. Including nature conservation, geographical distribution, QH1-199.5
Publisher: AOSIS
Year: 2006
DOI identifier: 10.4102/abc.v36i1.349
OAI identifier: oai:doaj.org/article:63bda2b7d3bf4492a77400a2e1f8fe85
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