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 Huang specialises in science and technology of ecological engineering of ferrous and base metal mine tailings (e.g., magnetite tailings, bauxite residues (or red mud), Cu/Pb-Zn tailings) into functional technosols and hardpan-based soil systems for sustainable tailings rehabilitation, with major focuses on: geo-microbial ecology, mineral bioweathering, geo-rhizosphere biology, technosol-plant relations in mined environments. Associate Professor Longbin Huang is currently a Principal Research Fellow, the Group Leader in Ecological Engineering of Mine Wastes (soil-plant systems), within Environment Centres (CMLR), Sustainable minerals institute (SMI), in University of Queensland. Dr Huang graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Agronomy (Double major: Soil Science & Plant Physiology), PhD in Plant Environmental Physiology, with more than 25 years of experience in soil-plant relations and tailings rehabilitation.

Tailings are the primary wastes from processing hard rock ores of economic metals (e.g., Au, Cu, Mn, Pb, Zn, U) and industrial mineral deposits (e.g., coal, phosphate, and bauxite), which are largely composed of often ultra-fine dust-like gangue containing waste minerals (e.g., silicates, carbonates, sulphides). My research aims to discover new knowledge of microbial driven bioweathering of tailings minerals and associated biogeochemical processes and 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 and/or hardpans. In particular, much research efforts are underway to understand geo-microbial mechanisms and processes in bioweathering primary minerals in various 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). The emerging technology and methodology are expected to deliver the much needed knowledge and know-how to speed up metal mine tailings rehabilitation which has emerged as global economic and environmental liabilities. My research theme is of multi-disciplinary nature, building on sciences of geomicrobiology, mineralogy, pedogenesis, soil microbial ecology, rhizosphere biology, and ecological dynamics of soil-plant systems.

The research is expected to deliver innovative and feasible technology and methodology to rehabilitate tailings and reactive waste rock domains - 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.
  • 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 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 .
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Research Impacts

My research has been firmly focusing on the development of innovative technologies and methodologies to transform the leading practices of mine waste rehabilitation at metal mines and refineries. Metal mine tailings (such as magnetite-Fe ore tailings, bauxite residues (red mud), and Cu-Pb-Zn tailings) are economically and environmentally the most challenging domains on metal mines and the innovation is expected to generate industry-wide impacts on sustainable tailings rehabilitation. My research closely engages mining and mineral processing industries in Australia and overseas, and firmly targets their needs for technological innovation to rehabilitate ferrous and base metal mine tailings. My research partners and sponsors include Glencore Ltd (formerly Xstrata Cu Australia) at Mt Isa Mines and Earnest Henry Mine, Karara Mining Ltd, Dexing Copper Mine (JiangXi Copper, China), MMG Ltd, and South32 Ltd. In late 2016, I was invited by Rio Tinto as the UQ-expert in tailings rehabilitation at the Gove Refinery Options Study - Innovation Workshop, discussing and developing research strategies for rehabilitating red mud ponds at Gove refinery. Most recently, I have been leading industry-scale research projects for eco-engineering soil formation in magnetite tailings (a large ARC-Linkage Project paternered with Karara Mining Ltd), alkaline red mud at Gove Refinery (Rio Tinto Alumina) and seawtaer neutralized red mud (RTA-Yarwun, Queensland Alumina Ltd), which are the first in Australia and overseas.

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

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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

  • Huang, Longbin and You, Fang (2017). Rehabilitation of biological characteristics in mine tailings. In Spoil to Soil: Mine Site Rehabilitation and Revegetation (pp. 75-94) Boca Raton, FL United States: CRC Press. doi:10.1201/9781351247337

  • 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 Donald L. Sparks (Ed.), Advances in agronomy (pp. 97-173) London, United Kingdom: Academic Press. doi:10.1016/bs.agron.2016.03.001

Journal Article

Conference Publication

Other Outputs

  • Huang, L., Nguyen, A. V., Rudolph, V. and Xu, G. (2012). Foliar fertiliser. WO/2012/116417.

Grants (Administered at UQ)

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Master 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