Tailings From Mining Activities, Impact on Groundwater, and Remediation

Khalid Al-Rawahy


Effluent wastes from mining operations and beneficiation processes are comprized mostly of the following pollutants: total suspended solids (TTS), alkalinity or acidity (pH), settleable solids, iron in ferrous mining, and dissolved metals in nonferrous mining. Suspended solids consist of small particles of solid pollutants that resist separation by conventional means. A number of dissolved metals are considered toxic pollutants. The major metal pollutants present in ore mining and beneficiation waste waters include arsenic, cadmium, copper, lead, mercury, nickel, and zinc. Tailings ponds are used for both the disposal of solid waste and the treatment of waste-water streams. The supernatant decanted from these ponds contains suspended solids and, at times, process reagents introduced to the water during ore beneficiation. Leakage of material from tailings pond into groundwater is one possible source of water pollution in the mining industry. Percolation of waste-water from impoundment may occur if tailings ponds are not properly designed. This paper addresses potential groundwater pollution due to effluent from mining activities, and the possible remediation options.


science, applied science, basic science

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.24200/squjs.vol6iss2pp35-43


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