The impact of BCL Cu–Ni mines on the surrounding environment has indicated high levels of heavy metal contamination in soil and some plant species. A comprehensive assessment of heavy metal concentration in plants, heavy metal concentration and availability in soils, and the estimates of risk associated with grazing animals in the area are presented. Exhaustive quantification of heavy metal contents in 82 plant samples revealed that some plants such as Boscia albitrunca and Boscia foetida are suitable for multi-metal phytoextraction, and others can accumulate one or two of the metals in soils or tolerate high levels of contamination. Current levels of soil contamination were manifested by acidification and high electrical conductivity, high contamination factor, and a pollution index between 8.31 and 10.79. The amount of exchangeable fractions of metals was higher than ordinary soils which is attributed to the high solubility of deposited materials on the soil surfaces. Daily intake estimates showed a possible risk associated with Pb and Cu contamination among grazing animals in the study area. Overall, the information has identified potential plants or combination of plants that could be utilized for the rehabilitation of the study area through phytoremediation. In addition, the estimates of the daily intake of the minerals due to consumption of plants in the vicinity of the BCL mines warrant for evaluation of the actual levels of heavy metals in grazing animals near the study area and in other mining areas in Botswana.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Environmental Engineering
- Environmental Chemistry
- Water Science and Technology
- General Environmental Science
- Geochemistry and Petrology