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Murray J.,National University of Salta | Kirschbaum A.,National University of Salta | Dold B.,SUMIRCO Sustainable Mining Research and Consult EIRL | Guimaraes E.M.,University of Brasilia | Miner E.P.,National University of Cordoba

Secondary jarosite and water-soluble iron-sulfate minerals control the composition of acid mine waters formed by the oxidation of sulfide in tailings impoundments at the (Zn-Pb-Ag) Pan de Azúcar mine located in the Pozuelos Lagoon Basin (semi-arid climate) in Northwest (NW) Argentina. In the primary zone of the tailings (9.5 wt % pyrite-marcasite) precipitation of anglesite (PbSO4), wupatkite ((Co,Mg,Ni)Al2(SO4)4) and gypsum retain Pb, Co and Ca, while mainly Fe2+, Zn2+, Al3+, Mg2+, As3+/5+ and Cd2+ migrate downwards, forming a sulfate and metal-rich plume. In the oxidation zone, jarosite (MFe3(TO4)2(OH)6) is the main secondary Fe3+ phase; its most suitable composition is M = K+, Na+, and Pb2+and TO4 = SO42−; AsO4 2−. During the dry season, iron-sulfate salts precipitate by capillary transport on the tailings and at the foot of DC2 (tailings impoundment DC2) tailings dam where an acid, Fe2+ rich plume outcrops. The most abundant compounds in the acid mine drainage (AMD) are SO4 2−, Fe2+, Fe3+, Zn2+, Al3+, Mg2+, Cu2+, As3+/5+, Cd2+. These show peak concentrations at the beginning of the wet season, when the soluble salts and jarosite dissolve. The formation of soluble sulfate salts during the dry season and dilution during the wet season conform an annual cycle of rapid metals and acidity transference from the tailings to the downstream environment. © 2014 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. Source

Alarcon R.,University of Chile | Gaviria J.,University of Concepcion | Dold B.,University of Chile | Dold B.,University of Concepcion | Dold B.,SUMIRCO Sustainable Mining Research and Consult EIRL

Sea level rise is able to change the geochemical conditions in coastal systems. In these environments, transport of contaminants can be controlled by the stability and adsorption capacity of iron oxides. The behavior of adsorbed and co-precipitated arsenic in jarosite, schwertmannite, ferrihydrite, and goethite in sea water (common secondary minerals in coastal tailings) was investigated. The aim of the investigation was to establish As retention and transport under a marine flood scenario, which may occur due to climate change. Natural and synthetic minerals with co-precipitated and adsorbed As were contacted with seawater for 25 days. During this period As, Fe, Cl, SO4, and pH levels were constantly measured. The larger retention capability of samples with co-precipitated As, in relation with adsorbed As samples, reflects the different kinetics between diffusion, dissolution, and surface exchange processes. Ferrihydrite and schwertmannite showed good results in retaining arsenic, although schwertmannite holding capacity was enhanced due its buffering capacity, which prevented reductive dissolution throughout the experiment. Arsenic desorption from goethite could be understood in terms of ion exchange between oxides and electrolytes, due to the charge difference generated by a low point-of-zero-charge and the change in stability of surface complexes between synthesis conditions and natural media. © 2014, by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. Source

Diaby N.,University of Lausanne | Diaby N.,Cheikh Anta Diop University | Dold B.,University of Lausanne | Dold B.,SUMIRCO Sustainable Mining Research and Consult EIRL

We present data of the time-evolution of a remediation approach on a marine shore tailings deposit by the implementation of an artificial wetland. Two remediation cells were constructed: one in the northern area at sea-level and one in the central delta area (above sea-level) of the tailings. At the beginning, the “sea-level” remediation cell had a low pH (3.1), with high concentrations of dissolved metals and sulfate and chloride ions and showed sandy grain size. After wetland implementation, the “sea-level” remediation cell was rapidly water-saturated, the acidity was consumed, and after four months the efficiency of metal removal from solution was up to 79.5%–99.4% for Fe, 94.6%–99.9% for Mn, and 96.1%–99.6% for Zn. Al and Cu concentrations decreased below detection limit. The “above sea-level” remediation cell was characterized by the same pH (3.1) and finer grain size (clayey–silty), and with some lower element concentrations than in the “sea-level” cell. Even after one year of flooding, the “above sea-level” cell was not completely flooded, showing on-going sulfide oxidation in between the wetland cover and the groundwater level; the pH increased only to 4.4 and metal concentrations decreased only by 96% for Fe, 88% for Al, 51% for Cu, 97% for Mn, and 95% for Zn. During a dry period, the water level dropped in the “sea-level” cell, resulting in a seawater ingression, which triggered the desorption of As into solution. These data show that the applied remediation approach for this tailings deposit is successful, if the system is maintained water-saturated. Metal removal from solution was possible in both systems: first, as a result of sorption on Fe(III) hydroxide/and/or clay minerals and/or co-precipitation processes after rise of pH; and then, with more reducing conditions, due to metal sulfides precipitation. © 2014, by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. Source

Dold B.,SUMIRCO Sustainable Mining Research and Consult EIRL

Sulphidic mine tailings are among the largest mining wastes on Earth and are prone to produce acid mine drainage (AMD). The formation of AMD is a sequence of complex biogeochemical and mineral dissolution processes. It can be classified in three main steps occurring from the operational phase of a tailings impoundment until the final appearance of AMD after operations ceased: (1) During the operational phase of a tailings impoundment the pH-Eh regime is normally alkaline to neutral and reducing (water-saturated). Associated environmental problems include the presence of high sulphate concentrations due to dissolution of gypsum-anhydrite, and/or effluents enriched in elements such as Mo and As, which desorbed from primary ferric hydroxides during the alkaline flotation process. (2) Once mining-related operations of the tailings impoundment has ceased, sulphide oxidation starts, resulting in the formation of an acidic oxidation zone and a ferrous iron-rich plume below the oxidation front, that re-oxidises once it surfaces, producing the first visible sign of AMD, i.e., the precipitation of ferrihydrite and concomitant acidification. (3) Consumption of the (reactive) neutralization potential of the gangue minerals and subsequent outflow of acidic, heavy metal-rich leachates from the tailings is the final step in the evolution of an AMD system. The formation of multi-colour efflorescent salts can be a visible sign of this stage. © 2014, by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. Source

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