Mine wastes: characterization, treatment and environmental by Bernd Lottermoser

By Bernd Lottermoser

This thorough, updated review of wastes amassing at mine websites bargains comprehensively with sulfidic mine wastes, mine water, tailings, cyanidation wastes of gold-silver ores, radioactive wastes of uranium ores, and wastes of phosphate and potash ores.

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Example text

How quickly pyrite weathers is influenced by its mineralogical properties and by external chemical, physical and biological factors. Mineralogical properties include the particle size, porosity, surface area, crystallography, and trace element content of pyrite. External factors are the presence of other sulfides, the presence or absence of microorganisms, as well as the oxygen and carbon dioxide concentration, temperature, pH and Fe2+/Fe3+ ratio of the weathering solution. e. the weathering kinetics of pyrite) is influenced by the following factors: Pyrite particle size, porosity and surface area.

In historic times, mine wastes were released into the environment with some of them causing contamination or even pollution on a local or regional scale. Environmental contamination as a result of mining is not new to the industrialized world. Air contamination as a result of smelting has been detected as far back as 5 000 years ago. Stratigraphic and physicochemical investigations of numerous European peat bogs have confirmed that smelting of sulfide minerals led to metal contamination of the environment (Shotyk et al.

2000; Jennings et al. 2000; Belzile et al. 2004; Yunmei et al. 2004; Lengke and Tempel 2005; Goh et al. 2006; Walker et al. 2006). The principal conclusion is that sulfide minerals differ in their acid production, reaction rate and degree of recalcitrance to weathering. Different sulfide minerals have different weathering behaviours. Pyrite, marcasite (FeS 2), pyrrhotite (Fe1–xS) and mackinawite ((Fe,Ni)9S8) appear to be the most reactive sulfides and their oxidation generates low pH waters. Other sulfides such as covellite (CuS), millerite (NiS) and galena (PbS) are generally far less reactive than pyrite.

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