Mine Wastes: Characterization, Treatment and Environmental by Bernd Lottermoser

By Bernd Lottermoser

This thorough, updated assessment of wastes amassing at mine websites offers 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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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. 1996; Ernst 1998). For example, the smelting of lead-rich silver ore in Spain by the Romans 2 000 years ago quadrupled the levels of lead in the atmosphere as far away as Greenland (Rosman et al. 1997). Generally, the smelting of sulfide ore in open air furnaces by the Greeks and Romans resulted in a vast area of the Northern Hemisphere being showered with metal-rich dust (Hong et al.

Water and sediment contamination and pollution are similarly not a by-product of industrialization. For example, soil erosion began with clearing of land and primitive agricultural practices 5 000 years ago (Lottermoser et al. 1997a), and metal mining in the northern Harz province of Germany resulted in metal pollution of regional stream sediments as far back as 3 500 years ago (Monna et al. 2000). Similarly, exploitation of the Rio Tinto ores in Spain has caused massive metal contamination of stream and estuary sediments since the Copper Age 5 000 years ago (Leblanc et al.

Poorly crystalline pyrites or pyrites with structural defects have an imperfect or distorted crystal lattice. This leads to physical stress in the crystal structure which makes the mineral more susceptible to chemical attack (Hutchison and Ellison 1992; Rose and Cravotta 1999). Trace element substitution. 1). This puts strain on the crystal structure and diminishes the sulfide’s resistance to oxidation. For instance, the occurrence of arsenic in pyrite greatly decreases the resistance of pyrite to oxidation (Hutchison and Ellison 1992; Plumlee 1999).

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