Minerals2014, 4(2), 313-329; doi:10.3390/min4020313 - published online 16 April 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Hyperspectral high spatial resolution HyMap data are used to map mine waste from massive sulfide ore deposits, mostly abandoned, on the Iberian Pyrite Belt (southwest Spain). Mine dams, mill tailings and mine dumps in variable states of pyrite oxidation are recognizable. The interpretation of hyperspectral remote sensing requires specific algorithms able to manage high dimensional data compared to multispectral data. The routine of image processing methods used to extract information from hyperspectral data to map geological features is explained, as well as the sequence of algorithms used to produce maps of the mine sites. The mineralogical identification capability of algorithms to produce maps based on archive spectral libraries is discussed. Trends of mineral growth differ spectrally over time according to the geological setting and the recovery state of the mine site. Subtle mineralogical changes are enhanced using the spectral response as indicators of pyrite oxidation intensity of the mine waste piles and pyrite mud tailings. The changes in the surface of the mill tailings deserve a detailed description, as the surfaces are inaccessible to direct observation. Such mineralogical changes respond faithfully to industrial activities or the influence of climate when undisturbed by human influence.
Minerals2014, 4(2), 293-312; doi:10.3390/min4020293 - published online 14 April 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Shales are increasingly being exploited for oil and unconventional gas. Exploitation of sub-arctic oil shales requires the creation of gravel pads to elevate workings above the heaving effects of ground ice. These gravel pads can potentially generate acidic leachate, which can enhance the mobility of metals from the shale. To examine this potential, pyrite-bearing shale originating from sub-Arctic gravel pad sites were subjected to leaching tests for 600 days at initial pH values ranging from 2 to 5, to simulate potential real world conditions. At set times over the 600 day experiment, pH, oxidation reduction potential (ORP), dissolved oxygen and temperature were recorded and small liquid samples withdrawn and analysed for elemental concentrations using total reflection X-ray fluorescence spectrometry (TRXRF). Six of eight shale samples were found to be acid generating, with pH declining and ORP becoming increasingly positive after 100 days. Two of the eight shale samples produced increasingly alkaline leachate conditions with relatively low ORP after 100 days, indicating an inbuilt buffering capacity. By 600 days the buffering capacity of all samples had been consumed and all leachate samples were acidic. TRXRF analyses demonstrated significant potential for the leaching of S, Fe, Ni, Cu, Zn and Mn with greatest concentrations found in reaction vessels with most acidic pH and highest ORP.
Minerals2014, 4(2), 279-292; doi:10.3390/min4020279 - published online 14 April 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Mining of metals and coals generates solid and liquid wastes that are potentially hazardous to the environment. Traditional methods to reduce the production of pollutants from mining and to treat impacted water courses are mostly physico-chemical in nature, though passive remediation of mine waters utilizes reactions that are catalysed by microorganisms. This paper reviews recent advances in biotechnologies that have been proposed both to secure reactive mine tailings and to remediate mine waters. Empirical management of tailings ponds to promote the growth of micro-algae that sustain populations of bacteria that essentially reverse the processes involved in the formation of acid mine drainage has been proposed. Elsewhere, targeted biomineralization has been demonstrated to produce solid products that allow metals present in mine waters to be recovered and recycled, rather than to be disposed of in landfill.
Minerals2014, 4(2), 257-278; doi:10.3390/min4020257 - published online 10 April 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: A five-year, humidity-cell experiment was used to study the weathering evolution of a low-sulfide, granitic waste rock at 5 and 22 °C. Only the rock with the highest sulfide content (0.16 wt %) released sufficient acid to overcome a limited carbonate acid-neutralization capacity and produce a substantial decline in pH. Leached SO4 and Ca quickly increased then decreased during the first two years of weathering. Sulfide oxidation continued to release acid and SO4 after carbonate depletion, resulting in an increase in acid-soluble elements, including Cu and Zn. With the dissolution of Al-bearing minerals, the pH stabilized above 4, and sulfide oxidation continued to decline until the end of the experiment. The variation in activation energy of sulfide oxidation correlates with changes in sulfide availability, where the lowest activation energies occurred during the largest releases of SO4. A decrease in sulfide availability was attributed to consumption of sulfide and weathered rims on sulfide grains that reduced the oxidation rate. Varying element release rates due to changing carbonate and sulfide availability provide identifiable geochemical conditions that can be viewed as neutralization sequences and may be extrapolated to the field site for examining the evolution of mineral weathering of the waste rock.
Minerals2014, 4(2), 241-256; doi:10.3390/min4020241 - published online 9 April 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The Mount Amiata mining district (southern Tuscany, Italy) was, for decades, one of the world’s largest mercury (Hg) producing regions, where mining activity lasted until the 1980s. The Paglia River drains the eastern part of the district and is also the main western tributary of the Tiber River. Recent studies show that, still today, high total Hg contents severely affect the downstream ecosystems of these rivers. In November 2012, a major flood event occurred in the Paglia River basin, which drastically changed the river morphology and, possibly, the Hg concentrations. In the present work, stream sediment was sampled before and after the flood to evaluate possible changes in sediment total Hg concentrations as a consequence of this event. The comparison between pre- and post-flood Hg concentrations shows that Hg content increased up to an order of magnitude after the flood, suggesting that this event triggered Hg mobilization in the basin rather than its dilution.
Minerals2014, 4(2), 208-240; doi:10.3390/min4020208 - published online 27 March 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: A review of the literature about calculating the adsorption properties of arsenic onto mineral models using density functional theory (DFT) is presented. Furthermore, this work presents DFT results that show the effect of model charge, hydration, oxidation state, and DFT method on the structures and adsorption energies for AsIII and AsV onto Fe3+-(oxyhydr)oxide cluster models. Calculated interatomic distances from periodic planewave and cluster-model DFT are compared with experimental data for AsIII and AsV adsorbed to Fe3+-(oxyhydr)oxide models. In addition, reaction rates for the adsorption of AsV on α-FeOOH (goethite) (010) and Fe3+ (oxyhydr)oxide cluster models were calculated using planewave and cluster-model DFT methods.