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Metals 2015, 5(3), 1241-1261; doi:10.3390/met5031241

Experimental Simulation of Long Term Weathering in Alkaline Bauxite Residue Tailings

1
School of Geography, Planning, and Environmental Management, the University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD 4072, Australia
2
Centre for Mined Land Rehabilitation, the University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD 4072, Australia
3
School of Earth and Environment, University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia
4
Department of Plant Production and Soil Science, University of Pretoria, Private Bag X20, Hatfield, Pretoria 0002, South Africa
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Suresh Bhargava
Received: 18 June 2015 / Revised: 6 July 2015 / Accepted: 7 July 2015 / Published: 14 July 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hydrometallurgy)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [1254 KB, uploaded 14 July 2015]   |  

Abstract

Bauxite residue is an alkaline, saline tailings material generated as a byproduct of the Bayer process used for alumina refining. Developing effective plans for the long term management of potential environmental impacts associated with storage of these tailings is dependent on understanding how the chemical and mineralogical properties of the tailings will change during weathering and transformation into a soil-like material. Hydrothermal treatment of bauxite residue was used to compress geological weathering timescales and examine potential mineral transformations during weathering. Gibbsite was rapidly converted to boehmite; this transformation was examined with in situ synchrotron XRD. Goethite, hematite, and calcite all precipitated over longer weathering timeframes, while tricalcium aluminate dissolved. pH, total alkalinity, and salinity (electrical conductivity) all decreased during weathering despite these experiments being performed under “closed” conditions (i.e., no leaching). This indicates the potential for auto-attenuation of the high alkalinity and salinity that presents challenges for long term environmental management, and suggests that management requirements will decrease during weathering as a result of these mineral transformations. View Full-Text
Keywords: weathering; pressure vessels; in situ XRD; bauxite residue; reaction kinetics weathering; pressure vessels; in situ XRD; bauxite residue; reaction kinetics
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Santini, T.C.; Fey, M.V.; Gilkes, R.J. Experimental Simulation of Long Term Weathering in Alkaline Bauxite Residue Tailings. Metals 2015, 5, 1241-1261.

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