Geochemistry and potential environmental impact of the mine tailings at Rosh Pinah, southern Namibia
Publication Year:
Mine tailings at Rosh Pinah located in semiarid southern Namibia were investigated by the combination of mineralogical methods and leaching using water and simulated gastric solution. They are well-neutralized with leachate pH > 7 and neutralization potential ratios (NPR) up to 4. Neutralization is mainly due to abundant Mn-rich dolomite in the matrix. Concentrations of released contaminants in water leachate follow the order Zn > Pb > Cu > As. Relatively high leached concentrations of Zn and partly also of Pb are caused by their link to relatively soluble carbonates and Mn-oxyhydroxides. In contrast, As is almost immobile by binding into Fe-oxyhydroxides, which are resistant to dissolution. Barium is released by the dissolution of Ba-carbonate (norsethite) and precipitates in sulfate-rich pore water as barite. Dissolved concentrations in neutral mine drainage water collected in the southern pond are low, but when total concentrations including colloidal fraction are taken into account, more than 70% of Zn is in colloidal form. Groundwater upgradient of the mine tailings is of poor quality and there seems to be no negative impact on groundwater downgradient from mine tailings. Contaminant concentrations in simulated gastric leachates are in the order Ba > Pb > Zn > Cu > As with a maximum gastric bioaccessibility of 86.6% for Ba and a minimum of 3.3% for As. These results demonstrate that total contaminant content and toxicity in the solid phase are poor predictors of risk, and therefore mineralogical and bioavailability/bioaccessibility studies are necessary for evaluation of contaminant environmental impact. Keywords: Mine tailings, Neutral mine drainage, Oxyhydroxides, Carbonates, Barium, Gastric bioaccessibility.
Publication Title:
Journal of African Earth Sciences
Item Type:
Journal Article

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