Release of heavy metals from sulfide flotation tailings under deepwater discharge environments
Minerals & Metallurgical Processing
, 2009, Vol. 26, No. 3, pp. 174-178
Lin, H.K.; Walsh, D.E.; Chen, X.; Oleson, J.L.
Deepwater discharges of sulfide flotation tailings have been practiced for several decades. Oxygen penetration and organic matter content in such environments are the two major factors that determine their reduction-oxidation condition and hence the rate of sulfide mineral dissolution under such discharge environments. In this study, the effects of solution redox potential and pH on the dissolution of some heavy metals from sulfide flotation tailings were examined. Zn, Pb and Cu concentrations in solution were all higher at a higher redox potential and lower pH. Dissolved Zn concentrations reached 100 ppm even at a low redox potential of 105 mV and near neutral pH after 33 days. Pb concentrations were below 2 ppm at 105 mV and near neutral pH after 165 days. At 105 mV, the Cu concentrations were below 0.2 ppm at near neutral pH after 165 days. At pH 2.3, the Fe concentrations were higher at 420 mV than at 105 mV. But at pH 6.8, the Fe concentrations were lower at 420 mV than at 105 mV, due to the oxidation of Fe2+ to Fe3+ and the subsequent precipitation of ferric hydroxide. Arsenic concentrations in solution were all less than 0.002 ppm. For Zn, Cu and Fe, no significant differences were observed between the tests in solutions prepared using seawater and those using distilled water. However, Pb concentrations reached higher levels in solutions prepared using seawater.