Authors: Kotzé, H; Hattingh, R; Ballot, C

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DOI https://doi.org/10.36487/ACG_repo/852_66

Cite As:
Kotzé, H, Hattingh, R & Ballot, C 2008, 'Economical Viability of Rehabilitated Sugarcane Agriculture', in AB Fourie, M Tibbett, I Weiersbye & P Dye (eds), Mine Closure 2008: Proceedings of the Third International Seminar on Mine Closure, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 705-714, https://doi.org/10.36487/ACG_repo/852_66

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Abstract:
Surface mining of heavy minerals is conducted on the east coast of South Africa. The resultant disturbed land is rehabilitated to sugarcane agriculture (its pre-mining land use) by capping the backfilled sand dunes with a layer of a sand-slimes mixture. The required composition and thickness of this layer was modeled with the predicted sugarcane yields as a primary output variable. Both the composition and thickness of the layer are significant in determining the water-holding capacity of the reconstituted soil, which in turn is a determining factor of the sugarcane yield. Sugarcane yield results obtained from the first harvest off rehabilitated land compare favorably with the predicted model results - and typical yield numbers from similar neighboring farming operations. A business case model for rehabilitated farmland is used to determine the breakeven sugarcane yield for positive revenue to cash cost. Since cane yield is, to an extent, a function of the sand-slimes layer thickness, the resultant breakeven yield numbers are used to confirm the optimum layer thickness previously calculated and reported from a soil perspective. It is furthermore shown that like most other sugarcane producers, the rehabilitated land is sensitive to the currently prevailing adverse economic conditions in the sugarcane industry.

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