Econ. Environ. Geol. 2010; 43(2): 137-148

Published online April 30, 2010

© THE KOREAN SOCIETY OF ECONOMIC AND ENVIRONMENTAL GEOLOGY

Characterization of Arsenic Immobilization in the Myungbong Mine Tailing

Woo Chun Lee1, Jong-Ok Jeong2, Ju-Yong Kim3 and Soon-Oh Kim1*

1Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and Research Institute of Natural Science, Gyeongsang National University
2Central Instrument Facility, Gyeongsang National University
3Department of Environmental Science and Engineering, Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology(GIST)

Correspondence to :

Soon-Oh Kim

sokim@gnu.ac.kr

Received: March 22, 2010; Accepted: April 20, 2010

Abstract

The Myoungbong mine located in Boseong-gun, Jellanamdo consists of Au-Ag bearing quartz veins which filled the fissures of Bulguksa granitic rocks of Cretaceous. The tailings obtained from the Myungbong mine were used to investigate the effects of various processes, such as oxidation of primary sulfides and formation(alteration) of secondary and/or tertiary minerals, on arsenic immobilization in tailings. This study was conducted via both mineralogical and chemical methods. Mineralogical methods used included gravity and magnetic separation, ultrasonic cleaning, and instrumental analyses(X-ray diffractometry, energy-dispersive spectroscopy, and electron probe microanalyzer) and aqua regia extraction technique for soils was applied to determine the elemental concentrations in the tailings. Iron (oxy)hydroxides formed as a result of oxidation of tailings were identified as three specific forms. The first form filled in rims and fissures of primary pyrites. The second one precipitated and coated the surfaces of gangue minerals and the final form was altered into yukonites. Initially, large amounts of acid-generating minerals, such as pyrite and arsenopyrite, might make the rapid progress of oxidation reactions, and lots of secondary minerals including iron (oxy)hydroxides and scorodite were formed. The rate of pH decrease in tailings diminished, in addition, as the exposure time of tailings to oxidation environments was prolonged and the acid-generating minerals were depleted. Rather, it is speculated that the pH of tailings increased, as the contribution of pH neutralization reactions by calcite contained in surrounding parental rocks became larger. The stability of secondary minerals, such as scorodite, were deteriorated due to the increase in pH, and finally arsenic might be leached out. Subsequently, calcium and arsenic ions dissociated from calcites and scorodites were locally concentrated, and yukonite could be grown tertiarily. It is confirmed that this tertiary yukonite which is one of arsenate minerals and contains arsenic in high level plays a crucial role in immobilizing arsenic in tailings. In addition to immobilization of arsenic in yukonites,
the results indicate that a huge amount of iron (oxy)hydroxides formed by weathering of pyrite which is one of typical primary minerals in tailings can strongly control arsenic behavior as well. Consequently, this study elucidates that through a sequence of various processes, arsenic which was leached out as a result of weathering of primary minerals, such as arsenopyrite, and/or redissolved from secondary minerals, such as scorodite, might be immobilized by various sorption reactions including adsorption, coprecipiation, and absorption.

Keywords Myungbong tailing, arsenic, immobilization, iron (oxy)hydroxides, yukonite

Article

Econ. Environ. Geol. 2010; 43(2): 137-148

Published online April 30, 2010

Copyright © THE KOREAN SOCIETY OF ECONOMIC AND ENVIRONMENTAL GEOLOGY.

Characterization of Arsenic Immobilization in the Myungbong Mine Tailing

Woo Chun Lee1, Jong-Ok Jeong2, Ju-Yong Kim3 and Soon-Oh Kim1*

1Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and Research Institute of Natural Science, Gyeongsang National University
2Central Instrument Facility, Gyeongsang National University
3Department of Environmental Science and Engineering, Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology(GIST)

Correspondence to:

Soon-Oh Kim

sokim@gnu.ac.kr

Received: March 22, 2010; Accepted: April 20, 2010

Abstract

The Myoungbong mine located in Boseong-gun, Jellanamdo consists of Au-Ag bearing quartz veins which filled the fissures of Bulguksa granitic rocks of Cretaceous. The tailings obtained from the Myungbong mine were used to investigate the effects of various processes, such as oxidation of primary sulfides and formation(alteration) of secondary and/or tertiary minerals, on arsenic immobilization in tailings. This study was conducted via both mineralogical and chemical methods. Mineralogical methods used included gravity and magnetic separation, ultrasonic cleaning, and instrumental analyses(X-ray diffractometry, energy-dispersive spectroscopy, and electron probe microanalyzer) and aqua regia extraction technique for soils was applied to determine the elemental concentrations in the tailings. Iron (oxy)hydroxides formed as a result of oxidation of tailings were identified as three specific forms. The first form filled in rims and fissures of primary pyrites. The second one precipitated and coated the surfaces of gangue minerals and the final form was altered into yukonites. Initially, large amounts of acid-generating minerals, such as pyrite and arsenopyrite, might make the rapid progress of oxidation reactions, and lots of secondary minerals including iron (oxy)hydroxides and scorodite were formed. The rate of pH decrease in tailings diminished, in addition, as the exposure time of tailings to oxidation environments was prolonged and the acid-generating minerals were depleted. Rather, it is speculated that the pH of tailings increased, as the contribution of pH neutralization reactions by calcite contained in surrounding parental rocks became larger. The stability of secondary minerals, such as scorodite, were deteriorated due to the increase in pH, and finally arsenic might be leached out. Subsequently, calcium and arsenic ions dissociated from calcites and scorodites were locally concentrated, and yukonite could be grown tertiarily. It is confirmed that this tertiary yukonite which is one of arsenate minerals and contains arsenic in high level plays a crucial role in immobilizing arsenic in tailings. In addition to immobilization of arsenic in yukonites,
the results indicate that a huge amount of iron (oxy)hydroxides formed by weathering of pyrite which is one of typical primary minerals in tailings can strongly control arsenic behavior as well. Consequently, this study elucidates that through a sequence of various processes, arsenic which was leached out as a result of weathering of primary minerals, such as arsenopyrite, and/or redissolved from secondary minerals, such as scorodite, might be immobilized by various sorption reactions including adsorption, coprecipiation, and absorption.

Keywords Myungbong tailing, arsenic, immobilization, iron (oxy)hydroxides, yukonite

    KSEEG
    Apr 30, 2024 Vol.57 No.2, pp. 107~280

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