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Seasonal variability of extremely metal rich acid mine drainages from the Tharsis mines (SW Spain)

AuthorsMoreno González, Raúl; Ruiz Cánovas, Carlos; Olías, Manuel; Macías, Francisco
KeywordsMetal pollution
Acid mine drainag
Mine wastes
Elemental ratios
Issue DateApr-2020
CitationEnvironmental Pollution 259: 113829 (2020)
AbstractThe Tharsis mine is presently abandoned, but the past intense exploitation has left large dumps and other sulphide-rich mining wastes in the area generating acid mine drainages (AMD). The main goal of this work is to study the effect of hydrogeochemical processes, hydrological regime and the waste typology on the physicochemical parameters and dissolved concentrations of pollutants in a deeply AMD-affected zone. Extreme leachates are produced in the area, reaching even negative pH and concentrations of up to 2.2 g/L of As and 194 g/L of Fe. The results of the comparison of ore grades of sulphide deposits with dissolved concentrations in waters shows that Pb is the least mobile element in dissolution probably due to the precipitation of Pb secondary minerals and/or its coprecipitation on Fe oxyhydroxysulphates. Arsenic, Cr, and V are also coprecipitated with Fe minerals. Seasonal patterns in metal contents were identified: elements coming from the host rocks, such as Al, Mn and Ni, show their maximum values in the dry period, when dilution with freshwater is lower and the interaction of water-rock processes and evaporation is higher. On the other hand, As, Cr, Fe, Pb and V show minimum concentrations in the dry period due to intense Fe oxyhydroxysulphate precipitation. In this sense, large sulphide rich waste heaps would be a temporal sink of these elements (i.e. Pb, As, Cr and V) in the dry period, and a significant source upon intense rainfalls.
Publisher version (URL)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2019.113829
Appears in Collections:(IDAEA) Artículos
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