Transforming Contaminated Mine sites using Pongamia Trees.
Creating a win-win: Elite, contaminant-tolerant varieties of Pongamia trees regenerate landscapes, creating jobs and a vibrant bio-energy and bio-technology industry
Problem / Challenge:
KCM is seeking a solution to rehabilitate its copper tailings, while also supporting local economic development and developing additional revenue streams for the business.
ImpactAgri and BetterWorld Energy have pioneered a unique solution using Pongamia trees to transform contaminated mine sites into productive assets for the mining company and local community, creating significant employment and economic diversification opportunities. Pongamia is a drought-tolerant tree species ideal for regenerating degraded landscapes that also produces plant oil that can be transformed into high-quality biodiesel. Importantly, unlike other biofuel crops, Pongamia is a nitrogen-fixing legume that enables the co-production of food crops, livestock, etc.
The team has proven the approach with KCM in Zambia on a toxic tailings site and is now active across sub-Saharan Africa. The benefits already include evidence of phyto-remediation (i.e. the return of a healthy ecosystem), nitrogen-fixing, carbon sequestration, successful intercropping (incl. sustainable food crops and livestock), and the production of bioenergy and organic pesticides. Furthermore, the project has created a number of employment opportunities, started generating healthy returns to investors and the mining company, and supported the mine’s licence-to-operate requirements.
ImpactAgri and BetterWorld Energy
Dr. Benjamin Warr of BWE commented, “ImpactAgri provide an honest, dynamic and trustworthy partner who have brought robust financial expertise to the team. They understand the practicalities of working in difficult environments and aligning these two critical dimensions is proving very successful.”
BWE has created a world first – the only company to have developed the varieties of Pongamia that can survive in Copper contaminated land. Dr. Warr said ” standard methods often fail, we have 99% tree survival and yields after just 2 years.”