Project Title: Can fibre-rich plants serve the joint role of remediation of degraded mine land and fuelling of a multi-product value chain through clean biomass production?
Supervisors: Bernelle Verster, Shilpa Rumjeet, Susan T L Harrison
Over the past two decades, over 5900 mines have been abandoned in South Africa, resulting in significant loss of economic activities for communities that depended on the mining industry for employment. This did not only affect economic activities of communities but affected and continues to affect the environment in the vicinity of the mines. Proper closure and remediation of these mines is solely left in the hands of a government with limited funds for land rehabilitation processes. Fibre-rich plants such as hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) and kenaf (Hibiscus cannabinus) are selected as the focal point of this research since they have been proven to simultaneously rehabilitate mine degraded land by concentrating heavy metals in their tissue from both soil and water, and they can produce significant metal-free fibre that can be used in the textile, automobile and various other industries, thus offering the possibility to develop a multiproduct value chain.
The project takes an inter-disciplinary approach to investigate the suitability of selected fibrous plants for land remediation and clean fibre production. The research areas include the geographical features of potential sites and the soil type; the resilience of the plant and its productivity; the nutrient and water requirements.
University of Cape Town, 2018. Towards Resilient Futures. [Online] Available at: http://www.resilientfutures.uct.ac.za/