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Mineralogic sources of metals in leachates from the weathering of sedex, massive sulfide, and vein deposit mining wastes

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Abstract

Weathered mine waste consists of oxidized primary minerals and chemically unstable secondary phases that can be sources of readily soluble metals and acid rock drainage. Elevated concentrations of metals such as Cd, Cu, Fe, Mn, Ni, Pb, and Zn are observed in deionized water-based leachate solutions derived from complex sedex and Cu-Pb-Zn mine wastes. Leachate (USGS FLT) from the Elizabeth mine, a massive sulfide deposit, has a pH of 3.4 and high concentrations of Al (16700 ug/L), Cu (440 ug/L), and Zn (8620 ug/L). Leachate from the sedex Faro mine has a pH of 3.5 and high concentrations of Al (2040 ug/L), Cu (1930 ug/L), Pb (2080 ug/L), and Zn (52900 ug/L). In contrast, higher-pH leachates produced from tailings of polymetallic vein deposits have order of magnitude lower metal concentrations. These data indicate that highly soluble secondary mineral phases exist at the surface of waste material where the samples were collected. Sulfide minerals from all sites exhibit differential degrees of weathering, from dissolution etched grain rims, to rinds of secondary minerals, to skeletal remnants. These microscale mineral-dissolution textures enhance weathering and metal teachability of waste material. Besides the formation of secondary minerals, sulfide grains from dried tailings samples may be coated by amorphous Fe-Al-Si minerals that also adsorb metals such as Cu, Ni, and Zn.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Conference Paper
Publication Subtype:
Conference Paper
Title:
Mineralogic sources of metals in leachates from the weathering of sedex, massive sulfide, and vein deposit mining wastes
ISBN:
9781617829727
Year Published:
2011
Language:
English
Larger Work Title:
SME Annual Meeting and Exhibit and CMA 113th National Western Mining Conference 2011
First page:
792
Last page:
796
Number of Pages:
5
Conference Title:
SME Annual Meeting and Exhibit and CMA 113th National Western Mining Conference 2011
Conference Location:
Denver, CO
Conference Date:
28 February 2011 through 2 March 2011