Chimbganda, T & Broadhurst, JL 2021, 'Investigating the potential use of fibre-rich plants to create multi-value chains for post-mining industrial development', in AB Fourie, M Tibbett & A Sharkuu (eds), Mine Closure 2021: Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Mine Closure
, QMC Group, Ulaanbaatar, https://doi.org/10.36487/ACG_repo/2152_10
Post-mining land use for the production of industrial crops has the potential to mitigate environmental and socio-economic impacts of mine closure and stimulate post-mining economic growth. Fibre-rich plants are of particular interest due to their multi-product potential. In a South African context, where there are many abandoned and end-of-life mines near human settlements, there is an opportunity to assess the feasibility of transforming post-mining land into productive land and building resilient communities through the development of multi-product value chains from fibre-rich plants such as kenaf, hemp or bamboo.
Biomass from fibre-rich plants, such as bamboo, kenaf and hemp, can be converted into various semi-fabricated and higher-end products (such as textiles, paper, furnishings, building materials, bio-plastics and bio-composites) as well as energy. The selection and development of viable processes and products for the downstream utilisation of plant biomass from post-mining land is complex and needs to be based on a comprehensive understanding of the options available, while considering the environmental, socio-economic and technical drivers, opportunities and constraints. This paper provides a review and assessment of the various processing routes for recovering value from fibre plant biomass, such as kenaf, hemp and bamboo, through the conversion into useful products, and potential integrated metal extraction, for the creation of post-mining industrial development. Based on findings from a comprehensive review of the published literature, as well as interviews with relevant experts within South Africa, it appears that bast fibre plants are the best downstream option for producing “green” textiles and high-end niche products, whereas bamboo is more suitable as a replacement for conventional timber. The desired products will, however, determine the fibre plant and plant-product processing options, and will be dependent on various local socio-economy and geography factors.
Ackerman, M., Van der Waldt, G. and Botha, D. 2018. Mitigating the socio-economic consequences of mine closure. Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy. 118(4):439-447.
Angelova, V., Ivanova, R. and Ivanov, K. 2004 ‘Bio-accumulation and distribution of heavy metals in fibre crops (flax, cotton and hemp)’, Industrial Crops and Products vol. 19, no. 3, pp. 197-205. doi: 10.1016/j.indcrop.2003.10.001.
Amaducci, S. and Gusovius, H. 2010. Hemp–cultivation, extraction and processing. In Müssig, J. (ed.) Industrial Applications of Natural Fibres Structure, Properties and Technical Applications. West Sussex, United Kingdom: John Wiley & Sons. 109-134.
Arbaoui, S., Campanella, B., Rezgui, S., Paul, R. L. and Bettaieb, T. 2014. ‘Bioaccumulation and Photosynthetic Activity Response of Kenaf (Hibicus cannabinus L.) to Cadmium and Zinc’, Greener Journal of Agricultural Sciences vol. 4, no. 3, pp. 091–100. doi: 10.15580/GJAS.2014.3.1216131031.
Arbaoui, S., Evlard, A., Mhamdi, M. E. W., Campanella, B., Paul, R. and Bettaieb, T. 2013. ‘Potential of kenaf (Hibiscus cannabinus L.) and corn (Zea mays L.) for phytoremediation of dredging sludge contaminated by trace metals’, Biodegradation, vol. 24, no. 4, pp. 563–567. doi: 10.1007/s10532-013-9626-5.
Benton, A. 2015. Priority Species of Bamboo. In Liese, W. and Köhl, M. (eds.) Bamboo: The Plant and its Uses. Hamburg, Germany: Springer. 31–41.
Broadhurst J., Chimbganda T. and Hangone G. 2019. Identification and review of downstream options for the recovery of value from fibre producing plants: Hemp, kenaf and bamboo. Working paper commissioned by the “Towards Resilient Futures Community of Practice: Developing a Fibre Micro-Industry to Generate Economic Growth from Degraded Land” on behalf of the South African National Research Foundation. Available at:
Chen, J.Y. and Liu, F. 2010. Bast fibers: from plants to products. In Bharat Singh, (ed.) Industrial crops and uses. Chippenham, UK: CAB International. 308-326.
Dicker, M.P.M, Duckworth, P.F, Baker, A.B., Francois G., Hazzard, M.K. and Weaver, P.M. 2014. Greencomposites: a review of material attributes and complementary applications. Composites Part A-Applied Science and Manufacturing. vol. 56, pp. 280–289
Digby, C.2012. Mine closure through the 21st Century looking glass. Proceedings of the Seventh International Conference on Mine Closure. Perth: Australian Centre for Geomechanics. 33.
Harrison, S., Rumjeet, S., Mabasa, X. and Verster, B. 2019. Towards Resilient Futures: Can fibre-rich plants serve the joint role of remediation of degraded mine land and fuelling of a multi-product value chain? Cape Town: UCT.Available at:
Houzelot, V., Laubie, B., Pontvianne, S. and Simonnot, M-O. 2017. Effect of up-scaling on the quality of ashes obtained from hyperaccumulator biomass to recover Ni by agromining. Chemical Engineering Research and Design vol. 120, pp. 26–33.
Hunt, A.J., Anderson, C.W.N., Bruce, N., Garcia, A.M., Graedel, T.M., Hodson, M., Meech, J.H., Nassar, N.T., Parker, H.L., Rylott, E. Sotiriou, K., Zhang, Q. and Clark, J.H. 2014. Phytoextraction as a tool for green chemistry. Green Process Synthesis. vol. 3, pp. 3–22.
Ingrao, C., Lo Giudice, A., Bacenetti, J., Tricase, C., Dotelli, G., Fiala, M., Siracusa, V. and Mbohwa, C. 2015. Energy and environmental assessment of industrial hemp for building applications: A review. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews. vol. 51, pp. 29-42.
Kaur, V., Chattopadhyay, D.P. and Kaur, S. 2013. Study on extraction of bamboo fibres from raw bamboo fibres bundles using different retting techniques. Textiles and Light Industrial Science and Technology. vol. 2, no. 4, pp. 174-179.
Khalil, A., Bhat, I.U.H., Jawaid, M., Zaidon, A., Hermawan, D. and Hadi, Y.S. 2012. Bamboo fibre reinforced biocomposites: A review. Materials and Design, vol. 42, pp. 353-368.
Kopittke, P.M., Lombi, E., Menzies, W. and Naidu, R. 2010. Principles of plant-based remediation of contaminated soils. In P.B. Singh, (ed.) Industrial crops and uses. London, UK: CAB International. 446-469.
Limpitlaw, D. and Briel, A. 2014. A review of the post-mining land use opportunities in developing countries. Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy. vol. 114, no. 11, pp. 899-903.
Linger, P., Müssig, J., Fischer, H. and Kobert, J. 2002. ‘Industrial hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) growing on heavy metal contaminated soil: fibre quality and phytoremediation potential’, Industrial Crops and Products. vol. 16, no. 1, pp. 33–42. doi: 10.1016/S0926-6690(02)00005-5.
Papadopoulou, E., Bikiaris, D., Chrysafis, K., Wladyka-Przybylak, M., Wesolek, D., Mankowski, J., Kolodziej, J., Baraniecki, P. et al. 2015. Value-added industrial products from bast fiber crops. Industrial Crops and Product. vol. 68, pp. 116-125.
Pari, L. and Alexopoulou, E. 2013. FIBRA PROJECT: Fibre Crops as Biobased Material source for Industrial Products in Europe and China.
Paridah, M.T., Basher, A.B., SaifulAzry, S. and Ahmed, Z. 2011. Retting process of some bast plant fibres and its effect on fibre quality: a review. BioResources. vol. 6, no.4, pp. 5260-5281.
Pennells, J., Godwin, I.D., Amiralian, N. & Martin, D.J. (2019) Trends in the production of cellulose nanofibers from non-wood sources. Cellulose, vol. 27, pp. 575-593.
Phong, N., Fujii, T., Chuong, B. and Okubo, K. 2011. Study on how to effectively extract bamboo fibres from raw bamboo and wastewater treatment. Journal of Materials Science Research. vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 144.
Pickering, K.L., Efendy, M.G.A and Le, T.M. 2016. A review of recent developments in natural fibre composites and their mechanical performance. Composites Part A: Applied Science and Manufacturing. vol. 83, pp. 98-112.
Rocky, B.P. and Thompson, A.J. 2018. Production of natural bamboo fibers-1: experimental approaches to different processes and analyses. The Journal of the Textile Institute. vol. 109, no. 90, pp. 1-11
Salentijn, E.M.J., Zhang, Q., Amaducci, S., Yang, M. and Trindade, L.M. 2015. New developments in fiber hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) breeding. Industrial Crops and Products. vol. 68, pp. 32-41.
Salt, D. E., Smith, R. D. and Raskin, I. 1998. ‘Phytoremediation’, Annual Review of Plant Physiology and Plant Molecular Biology, vol. 49, no. 1, pp. 643–668. doi: 10.1146/annurev.arplant.49.1.643.
Shi, G., Liu, C., Cui, M., Ma, Y. and Cai, Q. (2012) ‘Cadmium Tolerance and Bioaccumulation of 18 Hemp Accessions’, Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology, vol. 168, no. 1, pp. 163–173. doi: 10.1007/s12010-011-9382-0.
Sisti, L., Totaro, G., Vannini, M. and Celli, A. 2018. Retting process as a pre-treatment of natural fibres for the development of polymer composites. In: S. Kalia (ed), Lignocellulosic Composite Materials. Springer International Publishing. 97-128.
Siyongwana, P.Q., Shabalala, A. 2019. The socio-economic impacts of mine closure on local communities: evidence from Mpumalanga Province in South Africa. GeoJournal vol. 84, pp. 367–380.
Sharma, B., Gatóo, A., Bock, M. and Ramage, M. 2015. Engineered bamboo for structural applications. Construction and Building Materials vol. 81, pp. 66-73.
Sponner, J., Toth, L., Cziger, S. and Franck, R.R. 2005. Hemp. In R.R., Franck (ed.) Bast and Other Plant Fibres. England: Woodhead Publishing.176-206. //doi.org/10.1533/9781845690618.176.
Stacey, J., Naude, A., Hermanus, M. and Frankel, P. 2010. The socio-economic aspects of mine closure and sustainable development: Literature overview and lessons for the socio-economic aspects of closure - Report 1. Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy. vol. 110, no. 7, pp. 379-394.
dos Santos, W. N. L., Cavalcante, D. D., da Silva, E. G. P., das Virgens, C. F. and Dias, F. de S. 2011. ‘Biosorption of Pb (II) and Cd (II) ions by Agave sisalana (sisal fiber)’, Microchemical Journal, vol. 97, no. 2, pp. 269–273. doi: 10.1016/J.MICROC.2010.09.014.
Sheoran, V., Sheoran, A.S. and Poonia, P. 2009. Phytomining: A review. Minerals Engineering, vol. 22, pp. 1007–1019.
van der Ent, A., Baker, A.J.M., Reeves, R.D., Chaney, R.L., Anderson, C.W.N., Meech, J.A., Erskine, P.D., Simonnot, M-O., Vaughan, J., Morel, J.L., Echevarria, G., Fogliani, B., Rongliang, Q., and Mulligan, D.R. 2015. Agromining: Farming for Metals in the Future? Environ. Sci. Technol. vol. 49, pp. 4773−4780.
Vester, B., Broadhurst, J.L., Harrison, S., Young, C. and Steenkamp, F. 2018. Finding ways to keep communities alive after mine closures. The Conversation. Available at:
Zakikhani, P., Zahari, R., Sultan, M.T.H. and Majid, D.L. 2014. Extraction and preparation of bamboo fibre-reinforced composites. Materials and Design. Vol. 63, pp. 820-828