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02 OCTOBER, 2017 (MAINS)

TODAYS ANSWER WRITING CHALLENGE FROM GS- III

Q1. “Money does not grow on trees but gold can”. Elaborate in context of phyto-mining. Some of the plants are natural hyperaccumulators, and in others the property can be induced. Compare its advantages and challenges compared to conventional mining.

 

Please write the answer in comments section

  • Osho Korde

    Phytomining describes the production of a metal crop by using high-biomass plants, which are plants that produce energy or a usable resource when burnt. Phytominers cultivate crops of a specific plant species with high concentrations of a desired metal, harvest the plant and deliver it to a furnace to burn and gather its bio-ore.
    Environmental Considerations
    It is generally accepted that phytomining is greener than conventional mining practices. In environments with metal-contaminated soil, phytominers can recollect metal pollutants from the soil, thereby restoring the soil to health. Still, growing mass amounts of plants also takes a toll on the land used for cultivation. Industrial farming practices deplete the soil and overgrowing biocrops has the potential to permanently alter an area’s ecology.
    Economic Viability
    If the scale of production is large enough, phytomining could become a cheaper alternative to excavation, but large-scale harvesting of plants with concentrations of metal is currently more costly than extracting metals from mines. In the future, as metal prices rise and the yields from mines deplete, this could change. The shortage of metal from mines and persistent demand for metal by industry would offset the costs of initiating large-scale phytomining farm production.
    Growing Conditions
    Phytomining’s success is subject to the forces of nature. Unlike traditional excavation, phytomining is dependent on growing conditions such as the weather, altitude and soil quality. A bad growing season could wipe out an entire crop of metal-producing plants, and if global climate change alters weather patterns, the risks associated with establishing a long-term phytomining industry in an area increase.