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Hazardous wastes from large-scale metal extraction. A case study

Environmental Science and Technology (Impact Factor: 5.48). 24(9). DOI: 10.1021/es00079a001
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    ABSTRACT: The active Panasqueira mine is a tin–tungsten (Sn–W) mineralization hosted by metasediments with quartz veins rich in ferberite. The economic exploitation has been focused on wolframite, cassiterite and chalcopyrite. The mineralization also comprises several sulphides, carbonates and silver sulphosalts. The mining and beneficiation processes produces arsenic-rich mine wastes laid up in huge tailings and open air impoundments that are the main source of pollution in the surrounding area, once the oxidation of sulphides can result in the mobilization and migration of trace metals/metalloids from the mining wastes into the environment, releasing contaminants into the ecosystem. A geochemical survey was undertaken, in order to investigate the environmental contamination impact on agricultural and residential soils in S. Francisco de Assis village due to the mining activities. Rhizosphere samples, vegetables (Solanum tubersum sava and Brassica olerácea L.) which constitute an important part of the local human diet), irrigation waters and road dusts were collected in private residences in S. Francisco de Assis village. According to the Ontario guidelines (Ministry of Environment, 2011), the Arsenic contents in the rhizosphere soils exceed 20 times the reference value for agricultural soils (11 mg kg�1). The result obtained showed that some edible plants frequently used in the region could be enriched in these metals/metalloids and may represent a serious hazard if consumed. The potatoes tend to have a preferential accumulation in the leaves and roots while in cabbages most elements have a preferential accumulation in the roots. An index of the risk for residents, due to ingesting of these metals/metalloids, by consuming vegetables grown around the sampling area, was calculated and the result indicates that the inhabitants of S. Francisco de Assis village are probably exposed to some potential health risks through the intake of arsenic, cadmium and also lead via consuming their vegetables.
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    ABSTRACT: This work presents a study of arsenic adsorption kinetics and equilibrium on synthetic iron oxyhydrates and its extraction by bicarbonate solutions, as a model to exp lain the fast way for arsenic lixaviation from mining tailings by this mechanism. The arsenic adsorption on synthetic goethite and ferrihydrite showed a pseudo-first order kinetics, reaching the equilibrium in 6-7 days. The adsorption isotherms for arsenic on synthetic goethite and ferrihydrite carried out at different temperaaures levels showed the same and maximum adsorption capacity of 15-18 mg/g, presented a best fil according lo Langmuir Isotherm Model; 95% of arsenic adsorbed in these materials was extracted with bicarbonate solutions 0.5 M, pH 8.5 in 2 h. Approximately 25% of total arsenic present in the mine tailings was extracted by bicaabonate solutions in 6 h. The results suggest that in these tailings, there is an arsenic fraction bound to iron oxyhydrates thaf can be quickly lixiviated by bicarbonate s olutions.
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