In an attempt to promote sustainable vegetation cover on metalliferous tailings, a randomized factorial greenhouse trial of six-month duration was established to determine the effect of spent mushroom compost (SMC) amendment on the physical and chemical properties of the predominantly lead/zinc tailings. The tailings originated from the surface (20-30 cm) of the partially-vegetated 76 ha tailings management facility TMF), where more than nine million tonnes of pyritic metalliferous material were deposited in an unlined land impoundment. SMC was incorporated at application rates of 0, 50, 100, 200 and 400 ton ha(-1), with each treatment replicated 10 times and Lolium perenne sown at a rate of 200 kg ha(-1). The addition of SMC was beneficent as a growing medium through improvement of the Structural status of the tailings and ultimately through the provision of plant nutrients and reduction in meta concentrations. However, this improvement in the structural and chemical status of the tailings is not adequate in maintaining a sustainable vegetation cover and therefore other remedial options Such as introducing a capillary break on the surface of the tailings facility are necessary. (C) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.