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TitleMineralogical characterization of mine waste
AuthorJamieson, H E; Walker, S R; Parsons, M B
SourceEnvironmental geochemistry of modern mining; by Seal, R R, II (ed.); Nordstrom, D K (ed.); Applied Geochemistry 2015 p. 85-105,
Alt SeriesEarth Sciences Sector, Contribution Series 20140331
Mediapaper; on-line; digital
File formatpdf
Subjectsenvironmental geology; mine waste products; mine site rehabilitation; sulphides; carbonates; analytical methods; arsenic; gold
ProgramManagement, Environmental Geoscience
AbstractThe application of mineralogical characterization to mine waste has the potential to improve risk assessment, guide appropriate mine planning for planned and active mines and optimize remediation design at closed or abandoned mines. Characterization of minerals, especially sulphide and carbonate phases, is particularly important for predicting the potential for acidic drainage and metal(loid) leaching. Another valuable outcome from mineralogical studies of mine waste is an understanding of the stability of reactive and metal(loid)-bearing minerals under various redox conditions. This paper reviews analytical methods that have been used to study mine waste mineralogy, including conventional methods such as X-ray diffraction and scanning electron microscopy, and advanced methods such as synchrotron-based microanalysis and automated mineralogy. We recommend direct collaboration between researchers and mining companies to choose the optimal mineralogical techniques to solve complex problems, to co-publish the results, and to ensure that mineralogical knowledge is used to inform mine waste management at all stages of the mining life cycle. A case study of arsenic-bearing gold mine tailings from Nova Scotia is presented to demonstrate the application of mineralogical techniques to improve human health risk assessment and the long-term management of historical mine wastes.
Summary(Plain Language Summary, not published)
Metal leaching and acid rock drainage are the most costly and serious environmental problems associated with mining, and have contributed to a total worldwide liability of approximately $100 billion at modern and historical mines. This paper reviews the key mineralogical processes that control the environmental and human health impacts of mine wastes, and the analytical techniques that can and should be used to characterize minerals in mine wastes. This knowledge can lead to more accurate environmental predictions, less expensive mitigation, quicker project approvals, and an overall decrease in environmental risks.