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2009 Case Study: Milestone for Alcoa Rehabilitation

Alcoa of Australia again demonstrated why we are a world leader in mine site rehabilitation during 2009, after growing our one millionth plant in a state-of-the-art laboratory.
Manager of Mines, Bill Knight, said mine site rehabilitation is a complex and scientific process and some plant species, which need to be returned to the land during rehabilitation, needed a helping hand.

“There are several ways plants can be returned to rehabilitation, but some plant species do not produce viable seed, or if they do it is difficult to collect, and some don’t readily germinate - these are what we call ‘recalcitrant’ species and they need to be grown in a nursery in a process called ‘tissue culture”.
Alcoa’s Marrinup Nursery near Dwellingup, south of Perth, includes a tissue culture laboratory which has successfully contributed to  restoring high plant species diversity in mine rehabilitation - no other mining company in the world has comparable facilities.

“Tissue culture is essentially growing plant shoots in a sterile, controlled, environment usually in sealed jars.  The plant shoots are grown on media which contains nutrients for plant growth; minerals, amino acids, vitamins, hormones, sugar and water – all set in a jelly called agar,” Mr Knight said.

“Every four weeks the plant material is divided and placed into fresh agar and within a few months thousands of plants can be produced.”

Since 1994, the one million tissue cultured plants have gone into over 6,537 hectares of mine rehabilitation at Huntly and Willowdale Mine.