NRCP research to rehab mined-out areas in Marinduque shows successful results

Wednesday, December 06, 2017 06:47 AM    Views : 506by:Mary Charlotte O. Fresco

Lead researcher Nelly S. Aggangan in the project site in Mogpog, Marinduque.

Part of the 32-hectare mined dumpsite in Mogpog, Marinduque shows positive signs of recovery after trees started to grow in nutrient-depleted soil as a result of more than two decades of mining operations in the area.

Trees such as narra, acacia and eucalyptus showed healthy growth in degraded land soil with the help of beneficial fungi and bacteria that strengthen plant tolerance to high acidity and heavy metals present in the soil.

Dr. Nelly S. Aggangan, a scientist and researcher of NRCP based at the University of the Philippines Los Baņos, was able to develop bioremediation protocols that include best combinations of these fungi and bacteria that are most applicable according to tree species.

"Tree species especially those that are not native in the country may differ in growth performance, nutrient requirement and tolerance to soil acidity so it is important to establish a condition that could maximize their growth," explained Aggangan. 

The seedlings of these trees were inoculated with a combination of fungi and nitrogen-fixing bacteria before they were transplanted to the mined out sites. The study found that seedlings treated with fungi and bacteria have significantly higher survival rate in the mined out sites compared to plants without amendments.

"A symbiosis exists between the fungus and the root of the host plant. The fungus colonizes the root system, facilitating increased water and nutrient uptake while the plant provides the fungus with carbohydrates as food which is formed during photosynthesis," Aggangan described.

The NRCP as the funding agency and Dr. Aggangan unveiled the bioremediation protocols to the government of Marinduque last November 17, 2017 in Mogpog.

It is the first time that bioremediation strategies have been used in the Philippines to rehabilitate abandoned mined-out areas, according to Aggangan.

Bioremediation is touted by scientists as a "biological response to environmental abuse." Basically, the technology uses microorganisms to clean up contaminated sites. It is normally employed to address environmental pollution by heavy and toxic metals because of mining and other metallurgical processes.

The 2016 data of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau showed that the mining industry shares 0.6 of the total GDP, 4 percent share in the total exports from minerals and mineral products and provided employment to around 236, 000 workers. Mining provides the valuable minerals that serve as vital components of the things we use every day that make life easy or convenient.

However, the province of Marinduque was once a victim of what has been considered as one of the largest mining disasters in the Philippine history when on March 24, 1996 a drainage tunnel of a large pit ruptured and spilled millions of tons of mine waste and discharge into the Makulapnit-Boac river system, displacing several villages and killing marine life.

"It is a welcome technology to Marinduque that will benefit the people and save the province's natural resources that was nearly destroyed by irresponsible mining companies which operated in the province for several decades," said Governor Carmencita O. Reyes in her message during the ceremony.

Dr. Aggangan expressed that large part of the success of the project was contributed by the local government of Mogpog through Mayor Augusto Leo Livelo and the local community who act as partner in planting and monitoring the area.

NRCP President Cristina A. Binag and NRCP Executive Director Marieta Baņez Sumagaysay led a simple turnover of a policy brief to the government of Marinduque and different stakeholders to further intensify the project implementation in Marinduque. The policy brief highlights research findings and contains recommendations which may be adopted by other institutions as part of their mine rehabilitation strategies.


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