Scientists have long studied plants that can absorb and store metals,such as nickel and gold, in large amounts without being poisoned. The most obvious application for these plant species is removing metal contaminants from the ground, but could they also usher in a new frontier of environmentally friendly mining?

A 'nickel eating' plant has been discovered in the Philippines that could offer the mining sector a new and more environmentally friendly way of extracting the metal, provided the industry doesn't bring about its extinction first.

Discovered by a team of researchers from the University of the Philippines working on Luzon Island, the new species Rinoreaniccolifera has been found to soak up significant amounts of nickel that could be extracted for commercial use.

In a paper detailing the characteristics and appearance of the forest shrub, the researchers explained that it is capable of collecting levels of up to 18,000 parts per million of nickel in its leaf tissues by absorbing it from the metal-rich soil surrounding it, qualifying it as nickel-hyperaccumulator.

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