Environmental Pollution and Assessment in 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: 20 December 2024 | Viewed by 11661

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Departamento de Mineralogía y Petrología, Universidad Complutense Madrid, 28040 Madrid, Spain
Interests: contamination and remediation of soils; environmental geochemistry; mining wastes, acid mine drainage; mobility and toxicity of heavy metals
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Departamento de Mineralogía y Petrología, Facultad de Ciencias Geológicas, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, 28040 Madrid, Spain
Interests: contamination and remediation of soils; environmental geochemistry; mining wastes, acid mine drainage; mobility and toxicity of heavy metals

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Departamento de Biología Vegetal, Área de Edafología y Química Agrícola, Facultad de Farmacia, Universitat de València, 46100 Burjassot, Spain
Interests: contamination and remediation of soils; mining wastes; mobility and toxicity of heavy metals; environmental risk assessment

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Abandoned metal mining sites have left a degraded environmental legacy, threatening the ecosystem and human health, particularly by the presence of potentially harmful elements (PHEs), such as As, Cd, or Pb.

Before planning a soil remediation program, it is necessary to study the PHEs content, the natural mobility, the potential mobilization, and the toxicity effects, in order to obtain a comprehensive environmental and health risks.

The main objectives of this Special Issue focus on the study of the impact that the exploitation of mining deposits can have on the environment and its possible remediation. This study includes the evaluation of the levels of pollutants in soil and water, as well as the study of their source of origin and the processes by which they are dispersed.

Prof. Dr. María de la Luz García Lorenzo
Dr. José María Esbrí
Dr. Oscar Andreu Sánchez
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

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.

Keywords

  • potentially toxic elements
  • soil contamination
  • risk assessment
  • mine waste
  • water contamination
  • acid mine drainage
  • ecotoxicology of contaminated soils

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

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23 pages, 1701 KiB  
Article
Mineralogical, Petrological and Geochemical Characterisation of Chrysotile, Amosite and Crocidolite Asbestos Mine Waste from Southern Africa in Context of Risk Assessment and Rehabilitation
by Jessica Shaye Schapira, Robert Bolhar, Sharad Master and Allan H. Wilson
Minerals 2023, 13(10), 1352; https://doi.org/10.3390/min13101352 - 23 Oct 2023
Viewed by 1019
Abstract
Derelict asbestos mine sites in South Africa pose a considerable risk to human, environmental and socio-economic health. Comprehensive mineralogical and geochemical datasets for the existing hazardous geological materials still exposed in Southern African derelict asbestos mines remain largely non-existent, as very little published [...] Read more.
Derelict asbestos mine sites in South Africa pose a considerable risk to human, environmental and socio-economic health. Comprehensive mineralogical and geochemical datasets for the existing hazardous geological materials still exposed in Southern African derelict asbestos mines remain largely non-existent, as very little published and up-to-date literature is available. In this study, three representative types of asbestos mineral fibres from derelict asbestos mines in Southern Africa, namely chrysotile from Havelock mine, amosite from Penge mine and crocidolite from Prieska mine, are characterized mineralogically and geochemically to critically evaluate actual hazards in rural and asbestos-fibre-contaminated regions. The samples were examined using polarising light microscopy, X-ray fluorescence (major and trace elemental analysis), X-ray diffraction (including Rietveld refinement), specific surface area analysis and bio-durability testing. Data are discussed in view of their potential toxicities on both human health and the environment in the context of developing countries. Finally, information on the mineralogical and geochemical status of asbestos mine waste and its importance as baseline data for rehabilitation considerations is also evaluated. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Pollution and Assessment in Mining Areas)
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17 pages, 2265 KiB  
Article
Geochemical Characterization of Rock Samples from Selected Fiji Mine Sites to Evaluate On-Site Environmental Vulnerabilities
by Apete Tuiyaro Soro, Walubita Mufalo, Takahiko Arima, Carlito Baltazar Tabelin and Toshifumi Igarashi
Minerals 2023, 13(5), 661; https://doi.org/10.3390/min13050661 - 11 May 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2542
Abstract
Although mining contributes to about 1.4% of Fiji’s gross domestic product (GDP), the excavated rocks from mining may have detrimental effects on the environment. In this study, rock samples from five Fiji mine sites were selected to assess their geochemical characteristics from an [...] Read more.
Although mining contributes to about 1.4% of Fiji’s gross domestic product (GDP), the excavated rocks from mining may have detrimental effects on the environment. In this study, rock samples from five Fiji mine sites were selected to assess their geochemical characteristics from an environmental point of view. The mineralogical and chemical constituents, release and retention mechanisms of hazardous elements, and acid/neutralization potential of the rock samples were investigated to understand their environmental impacts on-site. The results showed that sulfide minerals typically found in the rock samples, such as pyrite, chalcopyrite, and sphalerite were responsible for the release of hazardous elements such as Cu, Pb, and Zn via oxidation. Leachates of rock samples from Mt Kasi, Nukudamu, and Wainivesi exceeded the World Health Organization (WHO) regulatory limit for Cu (2 mg/L), Pb (0.01 mg/L), and Zn (3 mg/L) in drinking water. In contrast, no hazardous elements were leached from the Tuvatu and Vatukoula rock samples, which could be attributed to the dissolution of calcite and dolomite that buffered the pH and limited heavy metal mobility. The acid–base accounting (ABA) and accelerated weathering test by hydrogen peroxide indicated that most of the rock samples containing sulfide minerals were likely to generate acidity. Furthermore, the results highlighted that once carbonate minerals are depleted in the rock samples, acid mine drainage (AMD) generation is inevitable. These findings reaffirm the need for committed effort in environmental management of the mine sites to prevent environmental issues associated with AMD. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Pollution and Assessment in Mining Areas)
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20 pages, 2800 KiB  
Article
Controls on the Generation and Geochemistry of Neutral Mine Drainage: Evidence from Force Crag Mine, Cumbria, UK
by Adam P. Jarvis, Catherine J. Gandy and John A. Webb
Minerals 2023, 13(5), 592; https://doi.org/10.3390/min13050592 - 25 Apr 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1878
Abstract
Neutral mine drainage (NMD) at Force Crag mine in north-west England has a circumneutral pH and high levels of Zn contamination. A long-term geochemical and hydrological dataset from this site was analysed using a novel molar mass balance approach, which demonstrated that the [...] Read more.
Neutral mine drainage (NMD) at Force Crag mine in north-west England has a circumneutral pH and high levels of Zn contamination. A long-term geochemical and hydrological dataset from this site was analysed using a novel molar mass balance approach, which demonstrated that the water chemistry is dominated by species released by the oxidation of sulphides: sphalerite (Zn, Cd, Ni), galena (Pb, mostly removed by adsorption to ferrihydrite) and pyrite (Fe, mostly precipitates as ferrihydrite). The calculations show that the sphalerite:galena:pyrite oxidation ratio is ~1:2:1, but the mine water chemistry is dominated by Zn due to the removal of Pb and Fe by adsorption/precipitation. The acidity released by pyrite oxidation is neutralised by the dissolution of calcite and, to a lesser extent, chlorite. The presence of pyrite is responsible both for the release of acidity and the removal of some contaminant metals by adsorption on ferrihydrite. The concentrations of sulphate, Zn, Cd and Ni in the mine water decrease with increasing flow due to dilution; modest increases in metal flux with flow probably reflect increased oxidation due to greater amounts of oxygenated water flowing through the mine. In contrast, Al, Pb and Cu concentrations are positively correlated with flow due to the flushing of these metals adsorbed to ferrihydrite particles. The influence of temperature is relatively subtle; metal fluxes are a balance between abiotic oxidation (which increases at higher temperatures and flows) and bacterially mediated oxidation (which is depressed at high flow rates when temperatures decrease below 10 °C). These conclusions apply to NMD mine water throughout the UK and elsewhere in the world, including mines hosted in both limestone and silicate rocks. The molar mass balance approach, together with synchronous flow and geochemistry data, provides crucial information for effective mine-water-treatment system design by elucidating the critical roles of flow rate and temperature in determining contaminant concentrations and loads. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Pollution and Assessment in Mining Areas)
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15 pages, 1224 KiB  
Article
Categorization of Mining Materials for Restoration Projects by Means of Pollution Indices and Bioassays
by Inmaculada Ferri-Moreno, Jose Ignacio Barquero-Peralbo, Oscar Andreu-Sánchez, Pablo Higueras, Luis Roca-Pérez, Mari Luz García-Lorenzo and Jose María Esbrí
Minerals 2023, 13(4), 492; https://doi.org/10.3390/min13040492 - 30 Mar 2023
Viewed by 1322
Abstract
Sulfide mining wastes may lead to severe environmental and human health risks. This study aims to use geochemical and ecotoxicological indicators for the assessment of the ecological risks of potentially toxic elements (PTEs) in the San Quintín mining group to categorize wastes prior [...] Read more.
Sulfide mining wastes may lead to severe environmental and human health risks. This study aims to use geochemical and ecotoxicological indicators for the assessment of the ecological risks of potentially toxic elements (PTEs) in the San Quintín mining group to categorize wastes prior to mining restoration. Ecotoxicity was evaluated using crustacean (Dahpnia magna, Thamnocephalus platyurus) and algae (Raphidocelis subcapitata) bioassays. The geochemical and mineralogical results suggested that the mining residues underwent intense weathering processes, with active processes of acidity generation and metal mobility. Total PTEs concentrations indicated that the mining materials were extremely polluted, with Pb, Zn and Cd geoaccumulation index (Igeo) values higher than 5 in more than 90% of the samples. The pollution load index (PLI) showed average values of 18.1, which classifies them as very highly polluted. The toxicity tests showed a higher toxicity for plants than crustaceans, being the highest values of toxicity related to toxic elements (Pb, Cd and Zn), electrical conductivity and to pH. This paper presents for the first time the combination of indices in the categorization of mining waste prior to its restoration. The combination of them has made it possible to categorize the waste and adapt the restoration and remediation procedures. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Pollution and Assessment in Mining Areas)
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Review

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23 pages, 630 KiB  
Review
An Overview of Soil Pollution and Remediation Strategies in Coal Mining Regions
by Abdulmannan Rouhani, Jeff Skousen and Filip M. G. Tack
Minerals 2023, 13(8), 1064; https://doi.org/10.3390/min13081064 - 11 Aug 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 3815
Abstract
Coal remains a very important source of energy for the global economy. Surface and underground coal mining are the two major methods of coal extraction, and both have benefits and drawbacks. Surface coal mining can have a variety of environmental impacts including ecosystem [...] Read more.
Coal remains a very important source of energy for the global economy. Surface and underground coal mining are the two major methods of coal extraction, and both have benefits and drawbacks. Surface coal mining can have a variety of environmental impacts including ecosystem losses, landscape alteration, soil destruction, and changes to surface and groundwater quality and quantity. In addition, toxic compounds such as heavy metals, radioactive elements, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and other organic contaminants are released in the environment, ultimately affecting the health of ecosystems and the general population. Underground mining has large impacts on underground water supplies and water quality, but generally has less visual surface impacts such as leaving waste and tailings on the surface and subsidence problems. In response to the concern about these environmental issues, many strategies have been developed by scientists and practitioners to minimize land degradation and soil pollution due to mining. Reclamation laws passed in numerous countries during the past 50 years have instituted practices to reduce the impacts of soil pollution including burying toxic materials, saving and replacing topsoil, and vegetating the land surface. While modern mining practices have decreased the environmental impacts, many sites are inadequately reclaimed and present long-lasting soil pollution problems. The current review summarizes progress in comprehending (1) coal mining impacts on soil pollution, (2) the potential risks of soil pollution associated with coal mining, and (3) different types of strategies for remediating these contaminated soils. Research and prospective directions of soil pollution in coal mining regions include refinements in assessing pollutant levels, the use of biochars and other amendments, phytoremediation of contaminated soils, and the release of toxic elements such as mercury and thallium. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Pollution and Assessment in Mining Areas)
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