Rio Tuba community ‘upcycles’ for soil conditioners

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    The bigger challenge, and probably the most important component, is to get the residents of the mining community of Rio Tuba in Palawan to participate in this upcycling program.

    Rio Tuba Nickel Mining (RTN) is the first in the mining industry to use the bioreactor technology of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) that converts biodegradable wastes into organic fertilizers and soil conditioners.

    RTN, a subsidiary of Nickel Asia Corp. (NAC), has adopted this innovative soil conditioning technology through DOST’s technology transfer program, which was developed to promote efficient solid waste management practices in the communities.

    According to Wilbern Blitz Paeste, Mining Technology and Geosciences Specialist at RTN, the key in using the bioreactor is to arrive at the right mix of biodegradable household wastes (dry waste, wet waste, and animal manure, including backyard wastes such as leaves) to increase the nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and carbon content necessary to reach the “soil fertilizer” status of the compost.

    The bigger challenge, however, and probably the most important component, is to get the residents of the mining communities to participate in the upcycling program so enough household wastes are collected. This requires segregation.

    This breakthrough in the production of soil conditioner using household wastes is a game changer in the mining industry where tons of fertilizers are needed to help improve the soil condition in the mined-out areas.

    Lateritic soil in mining areas are relatively low in soil nutrients and unconducive for agriculture. The challenge of nutrient deficiency of lateritic topsoils can be addressed only with proper intervention in order for the mined-out areas to be ready for rehabilitation programs.

    In Rio Tuba, 80 kilos of household wastes are collected per day with about 64 houses and select establishments initially participating in the program.

    “Aside from using our own organic fertilizers in the mine’s rehabilitation programs, the goal is to be able to provide soil conditioners that the communities and our employees can use in their backyard gardening in exchange for household wastes, as result this will limit our dependence on expensive commercial fertilizers,” ends Paeste.

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