Associate Professor Longbin Huang

Program Leader/Principal Res Fellow

Centre for Mined Land Rehabilitation
Sustainable Minerals Institute
l.huang@uq.edu.au
+61 7 334 63130

Overview

Associate Professor Longbin Huang specializes in ecological engineering and rehabilitation of ferrous and base metal mine tailings (e.g., magnetite tailings, bauxite residues (or red mud), Cu/Pb-Zn tailings), with particular research focuses on (1) biogenic factors and processes in the bioweathering of tailing minerals and bio-mineral-organo complexation for eco-engineering tailings into functional technosols compatible with physiological and ecophysiological requirements of native plant species, (2) geo-microbial processes in the weathering of suifidic and metallic tailings for hydrogeochemical stabilization, and (3) physical-mechanical-hydraulic processes of tailing cementation and hardpan formation, for developing hardpan-based soil system technology to rehabilitate sulfidic tailings and red mud (bauxite residues) dams.

A/Prof Huang is the program leader of ecological engineering and rehabilitaiton of tailings in Sustainable Minerals Institute, leading multidisciplinary projects on Cu tailings, Pb-Zn tailings, Fe-ore tailings, bauxite residues (red mud) for sustainable rehabilitaiton. He collabroates extensively with leading experts in UQ, other Universities and research institutes in Australia (e.g., Curtin University, University of Western Australia, and Botanic Gardens and Park Authrority of Western Australia) and overseas (e.g., Chinese Academy of Science, China University of Geoscience). His research is expected to deliver innovative and feasible technology and methodology to rehabilitate tailings - the most costly and challenging domains at mine sites and refineries, in order to significantly improve economic and ecological sustainability of mining and minerals industries in Australia and overseas.

MEMBERSHIP OF BOARD AND COMMITTEE

2017-present: Section Editor, Scientific Report (Nature)

2017-present: Section Editor, Plant and Soil

2011-present: section editor, Frontiers in Plant Science (Plant Nutrition)

2012–present: coordinating editor, Environmental Geochemistry and Health

2008 – present: Member of Academic Committee, Key Laboratory of Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation, Ministry of Land and Resources, China.

Awards & Patent

2015 SMI-Inaugural Bright Research Ideas Forum Award, The University of Queensland

2015 Foliar fertilizer US 20150266786. In. (Google Patents). Huang L, Nguyen AV, Rudolph V, Xu G (equal contribution)

Research Interests

  • Hardpan technology for capping and rehabilitating sulfidic and metallic tailings
    This research aims to develop hardpan-based soil system for rehabilitating sulfidic metallic tailings domain at mine sites, for substantially improving environmental and ecological sustainability and lowering economic costs of tailings rehabilitaiton and closure.and/or hardpans. In particular, much research efforts are underway to understand geo-microbial mechanisms and processes in bioweathering primary minerals in various sulfidic metal mine tailings (e.g., bauxite residues/red mud, Cu/Pb-Zn tailings), by means of Omics-approach (metagenomics/proteomics), advanced microscopic and microspectral tools (e.g., SEM-EDS, Confocal EM, Synchrotron-based XFM/XAS).
  • Engineered pedogenesis: ecological engineering technosols in tailings for native plant rehabilitation
    This research investigates biogenic factors (e.g., extremophiles, bacteria, fungi, and roots) in bioweathering of tailings minerals and associated biogeochemical processes and to develop new technology and methodology for rehabilitating metal mine tailings. The emerging technology is significantly different from conventional rehabilitation technology (such as soil remediation, phytoremediation and soil-capping), which essentially treats the tailings as engineered parent materials (rather than “soil” per se) and harness in situ microbial power purposely primed and enhanced to accelerate mineral bioweathering and secondary mineral formation, which underpin the development of suitable physicochemical properties and biological capacity in expected technosols. The emerging technology and methodology are expected to deliver the much needed knowledge and know-how to speed up the rehabilitation of mine tailings, such as rare earth mineral (clay-exchangeable type) tailings, magnetite/hematite iron ore tailings, coal tailings, porphyry Cu tailings, and red mud .
  • Dynamics of ecological linkages between engineered soil and native plant systems in mined land
    Focusing on the dynamic development of microbial community structure and functions in re-engineered soil systems after mining, in relation to the evolution of plant species diversity and dominance. It aims to develop soil ecological indicators of plant community development trajectory and necessary intervention measures, for achieving ecological sustainability and rehabilitation outcomes.
  • Biogenic modification of natural (duricrusts) and engineered hardpans formed from tailings
    This investigates the biological interaction mechanisms at the interface of roots and hardpan minerals, for different native plant species, in order to assess potential impacts of plants and microbes on the stability of hardpan (i.e. engineered duricrust)
  • Technosol-plant relations: rhizosphere mechanisms of colonising plant species
    This investigates microbial and biochemcial mechanisms in the rhizosphere of pioneer and native keystone plant species colonising technosols eco-engineered from tailings.
  • Next generation foliar fertiliser delivery technology
    This focuses on the R&D of technology for long-lasting delivery of trace elements or micronutrients via bio-chemical engineered and modified mineral compounds. It aims to supply micronutrients at foliar and fruit surfaces over the extended reproductive growth phase without phytotoxicity and physical damages (e.g., at young fruit surfaces). This technology can not only improve quality and yield of fruit and horticulture produce, but fortify micronutrient (e.g., Fe and Zn) density in fruits and vegetables for dietary nutrition.
  • Next generation intelligent fertilisers for efficient P and N supply in cropping soils
    This investigates new materials (low cost geo-minerals) and mechanisms to deliver P and N in cropping soils, which are responsive to plant needs and water availability, thus avoiding/minimising rapid release of P and N into soil matrix. This technology particularly targets alkaline/saline soils, high P-fixing soils, and sugarcane cropping systems.
  • Ecophysiology and physiology of native metallophytes in metal mined environments and tailing-technosols
    Focuses on the understanding of rhizosphere mechanisms and metal(loid) mobilization/uptake in native metallophytes and tolerant species which are often used to revegetate pioneer plant communities. It aims to identify native plant species which can effectively phytostablize metal mine tailings and land heavily contaminated by AMD.
  • Mineral-polymer based encapsulation technology to immobilize metals and metalloids in heavily contaminated soils for food safety
    This extends the knowledge of mineral-cross linking mechanisms and know-how of mineral transformation and encapsulation in metal mine tailings, into remediation of metal(loid) contaminated cropping land in developing countries for improving food safety and human health.

Research Impacts

My research aims to transform the current technology and practice and develop new technology and methodology of ecological engineering and rehabilitation of metal mine tailings, such as red mud, magnetite-tailings, Cu/Pb-Zn tailings, for substantially improving economic and ecological sustainability of mining and minerals industry. The emerging technology are built on sciences of geomicrobiology, mineralogy, pedogenesis, soil microbial ecology, rhizosphere biology, and ecological dynamics of soil-plant systems. The technology addresses two critical aspects of metal mine tailings: (1) hydrogeochemical dynamics causing seepage pollution and (2) replacing/offset the required volumes of soil materials to engineer soil systems covering the tailings. It represents a New Paradigm towards Sustainable Rehabilitation of Metal Mine Tailings, which has been well recognised by research communities and multinational mining companies.

This technology essentially treats the tailings as engineered parent materials and harness in situ microbial power to accelerate mineral weathering and the development of soil -like physicochemical properties and biological capacity which permit the colonization of pioneer and keystone native plant species. This new technology consists of (1) purposed alteration of mineral and organic constituents in the tailings, (2) priming and acceleration of microbial processes for bioweathering primary minerals, (3) stimulation of organo-mineral complexation for formation water-stable aggregate and development of primary soil-like physicochemical properties, (4) the colonisation and development of soil/rhizosphere microbes, and (5) the development of ecological linkages (e.g., in situ litter decomposition and nutrient cycling) with target assemblages or communities of keystone species, under local climatic conditions.

Qualifications

  • PhD Plant Environmental Stress Physiology, Murdoch University
  • Bachelor of Information Technology, Murdoch University
  • Bachelor of Science, Jiangxi Agricultural University

Publications

View all Publications

Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy

  • Doctor Philosophy

  • Doctor Philosophy

View all Supervision

Available Projects

  • investigating critical factors and mechanisms involved in aggregate formation and stability of tailings, in realtion to tailings mineralogy and geochemistry

View all Available Projects

Publications

Book Chapter

  • Wijesekara, H., Bolan, N. S., Vithanage, M., Xu, Y., Mandal, S., Brown, S. L., Hettiarachchi, G. M., Pierzynski, G. M., Huang, L., Ok, Y. S., Kirkham, M. B., Saint, C. and Surapaneni, A. (2016). Utilization of biowaste for mine spoil rehabilitation. In Advances in agronomy (pp. 97-173) London, United Kingdom: Academic Press. doi:10.1016/bs.agron.2016.03.001

Journal Article

Conference Publication

Grants (Administered at UQ)

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

    Other advisors:

Completed Supervision

Possible Research Projects

Note for students: The possible research projects listed on this page may not be comprehensive or up to date. Always feel free to contact the staff for more information, and also with your own research ideas.

  • investigating critical factors and mechanisms involved in aggregate formation and stability of tailings, in realtion to tailings mineralogy and geochemistry