Prediction of the long-term perfomance of abandoned lead zinc mine tailings in a Welsh catchment

Palumbo-Roe, Barbara; Klinck, Ben; Banks, Vanessa; Quigley, Sean. 2009 Prediction of the long-term perfomance of abandoned lead zinc mine tailings in a Welsh catchment. Journal of Geochemical Exploration, 100 (2-3). 169-181.

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In this study we investigated the sulphidic mine tailings from Frongoch and Grogwynion, two abandoned lead zinc mines in mid-Wales, UK. Despite falling within the same ore field the mine waste characterisation has identified differences in the tailings from the two sites. Bulk concentrations range from 10 to 52 g kg− 1 for Pb, 1.1 to 2.9 g kg− 1 for Zn in Grogwynion and from 1.0 to 130 g kg− 1 for Pb, 11 to 110 g kg− 1 for Zn in Frongoch. An experimental (European standard leaching tests TS 14429 and TS 14405) and geochemical modelling approach was used to study the leaching composition as a function of pH and liquid/solid ratio. There was little correlation between the tailings bulk metal concentrations and the leachate composition, but variations in Pb and Zn concentrations were found to be consistent with control of dissolved Pb and Zn by secondary minerals and the mechanisms of dissolution/precipitation/sorption involving them. Specifically, the Grogwynion mine tailings with near-neutral pH have predominantly lead and zinc carbonates controlling Pb and Zn solubility in the leachates, whereas the Pb and Zn concentrations in Frongoch leachates are best modelled with a surface complexation model for metal sorption to oxyhydroxides. The different speciation results in a greater sensitivity of Grogwynion tailings to acidification with a potential release of Pb in solution up to 10 times higher than in Frongoch, despite similar bulk Pb concentrations. At acid pH, Zn is similarly dissolved to a greater extent in Grogwynion than in Frongoch tailings. There was no evidence of sulphide oxidation during the batch and column leaching tests and the suitability of using these European leaching standards for the characterisation of sulphidic mine waste materials for waste management purposes has been considered.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: BGS Programmes 2008 > Environment and Health
ISSN: 0375-6742
Additional Keywords: Mine wastes, Wales
NORA Subject Terms: Earth Sciences
Date made live: 16 Apr 2009 10:44 +0 (UTC)

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