Geochemical Characteristics and Environmental Risks of Soils Around Coal Mining Areas

A special issue of Minerals (ISSN 2075-163X). This special issue belongs to the section "Environmental Mineralogy and Biogeochemistry".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 April 2024 | Viewed by 1545

Special Issue Editors

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Guest Editor
Anhui Province Engineering Laboratory for Mine Ecological Remediation, School of Resources and Environmental Engineering, Anhui University, Hefei 230601, China
Interests: environmental geochemistry; mine environmental engineering; ecological geology

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Environment and Energy Engineering, Anhui Jianzhu University, Hefei 230601, China
Interests: environmental geochemical behavior of organic pollutants and stable isotopes in superbiotic environment

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Though coal is a natural resource of paramount importance, used in a wide array of activities in daily human life, its extraction processes often result in the introduction of multiple pollutants into surrounding soils. Mining areas typically host a complex interplay of human activities, including mining, smelting, and agriculture, which lead to an equally intricate mechanism of pollution. Pollutants released as a result of mining activities, such as heavy metals, enter soil, and undergo various biogeochemical processes such as adsorption, chelation, co-precipitation, and bioaccumulation. These natural processes can alter the natural concentration of soil, affect its quality, and potentially have an adverse impact on human health as well.

Since the migration and transformation of pollutants in the soil are influenced by soil physicochemical properties and biological interactions, it is rather important to adequately characterize these underlying  mechanisms for effective application and enhancement of remediation methods. At present, data on the geochemical characteristics of pollutants in coal mining area soils is highly limited due to lack of effective analysis tools. Although some attention has been paid to heavy metal pollution in coal mining areas, there remains a deficiency in systematic research for quantitatively identifying pollution sources and migration transformation mechanisms, clarifying contamination pathways, and conducting environmental risk assessments.

Therefore, this Special Issue invites submissions of research manuscripts that underscore the geochemical characteristics and environmental risks of various pollutants in the soils surrounding coal mining area, thus contributing and expanding the existing literature on this domain.

Prof. Dr. Liugen Zheng
Dr. Jiamei Zhang
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Minerals is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • soil geochemistry in coal mining area
  • element transportation and transformation
  • source identification
  • environmental risk assessment
  • future development

Published Papers (1 paper)

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13 pages, 2206 KiB  
Analysis of the Source Apportionment and Pathways of Heavy Metals in Soil in a Coal Mining Area Based on Machine Learning and an APCS-MLR Model
by Yeyu Chen, Jiyang Zhao, Xing Chen and Liugen Zheng
Minerals 2024, 14(1), 54; - 31 Dec 2023
Viewed by 1300
Long-term coal mining activities have led to severe heavy metal pollution in the soil environment of coal mining areas, posing significant threats to both ecological environments and human health. In this study, surface soil samples were collected from the overlying soil of coal [...] Read more.
Long-term coal mining activities have led to severe heavy metal pollution in the soil environment of coal mining areas, posing significant threats to both ecological environments and human health. In this study, surface soil samples were collected from the overlying soil of coal gangue and the surrounding areas of the Panyi coal mine in Huainan. The concentrations of Cd, Zn, Cu, Ni, and Pb elements were determined. A self-organizing map (SOM) and an absolute principal component score multiple linear regression (APCS-MLR) receptor model were employed for the quantitative analysis of the soil’s heavy metal pollution sources and contributions. Additionally, this study focused on the analysis of the pathways of the relatively serious pollution of Cd. The results revealed that the average concentrations of heavy metals (Cd, Pb, Zn, Cu, Cr, and Ni) in the study area were 4.55, 0.59, 1.54, 0.69, 0.59, and 0.71 times the local soil background values, respectively. The concentrations of Cd and Zn exceeded the risk screening values at some sampling points, with exceedance rates of 44% and 8%, respectively, indicating a relatively serious Cd contamination. The sources of heavy metals in the soil in the study area were classified into four categories: mining activities, agricultural activities, weathering of natural matrices, and other unknown sources, with average contributions of 55.48 percent, 24.44 percent, 8.91 percent and 11.86 percent, respectively. Based on the spatial distribution of Cd, it was inferred that atmospheric deposition is one of the important pollution pathways of Cd in the study area. Cd profile distribution patterns and a surface water pollution survey showed that the farmland areas were affected by the irrigation water pathway to some extent. The vertical distribution of heavy metal content in the forest area showed a strong disorder, which was related to the absorption function of plant roots. The results of this study can help to improve the environmental management of heavy metal pollution so as to protect the ecological environment and human health. Full article
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