WALNUT, Calif., June 6, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- VIASPACE Inc. (OTCQB: VSPC) today provided an update on the status of Giant King™ Grass growing in South Africa. Previously, the company announced that it had signed a project agreement and received funding from Selectra CC of Johannesburg, South Africa, and that Giant King Grass was delivered and planted in South Africa.
The first project for Selectra is to remediate and also produce energy on land that has been altered by gold mining in South Africa. Mining is a very large industry in Africa, and there are numerous large tracts of mine affected lands. For example, gold mining produces large amounts of ore from which the gold has been extracted. There are thousands of hectares of these "mine dumps" or more correctly stated, slimes dams and mine tailings (the footprint that remains after a slimes dam has been removed for further processing).
The slimes dams are composed primarily of crushed rock that has been processed to remove the gold. It is not suitable soil and has minimal organic matter. There are traces of chemicals and contaminants from the gold processing. The mining companies are responsible for ensuring that these contaminants do not enter into the groundwater or are transported outside the dam itself by wind or erosion. They must maintain these slimes dams indefinitely until they are no longer a hazard.
Giant King Grass was planted on the slimes dams to evaluate its performance in this difficult environment. Giant King Grass can be used as a windbreak to prevent dust from spreading and to prevent soil erosion. The subsurface root system will add organic matter and help create soil from the crushed rock. The Giant King Grass may take up heavy metal contaminants from the slimes dams and contribute to remediation. Food crops are not possible because of the contamination in the soil. Selectra's goal is to use the Giant King Grass as a feedstock for either anaerobic digestion or direct combustion to produce electricity and therefore create value from these slimes dams for themselves and their partner gold mining company. It may be possible to remove the heavy metal contaminants from the anaerobic digestate as well.Selectra Commercial Director Dwight Rosslee reports, "Giant King Grass is growing well on the slimes footprint and we are pleased with the results so far. We are entering a critical phase of the tests as we need to model plant growth during our winter months and the early signs are most encouraging as the plants have continued to grow under the frost covers. In this regard we have extended the trial to December 2013 and thereby having almost 12 months data." Rosslee attributes the success of the trials to Giant King Grass' unique properties coupled with Selectra's proprietary soil treatments – "the slimes footprint where the tests are taking place are very unhospitable towards crop establishment with just about no organic loading, no nutrients and is acidic with an average pH of 4." Rosslee continued, "The tests on the tailings are extremely important as Giant King Grass could become our preferred crop on the tailings dams to get the biomass yields we are seeking. Moreover, the tailings dam applications outside of bioenergy are exciting as they are extremely varied from wind breaks, erosion prevention, and dust suppression to land remediation. In addition we will conduct scientific tests to gauge the ability of the plant to take up heavy metals and other contaminants typically found in mine impacted land. We are optimistic regarding our test results thus far and our goal is to use this data to support building biomass power plants to generate electricity from the Giant King Grass."