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Column Leach Study 1: Heavy Metal Dissolution Characteristics from Selected Copper Mine Tailings.

Doepker RD; O'Connor WK
Vol I 5th Billings Symp Dist Land Rehab Mt St Univ Recl Res Up 9003 3/25-30/90 Pp27-40 I:14 pages
Mill tailings collected from seven copper mine mill sites in the western United States were examined by researchers from the U.S. Bureau of Mines for metal dissolution properties using a column leaching procedure involving a formulated "western rain" leachant. Studies investigated effects of height of waste column, wet-dry cycle, and maximum leachability of waste tailings. Further studies on selected samples indicated that treatment of acid-producing tailings with chemical stabilizers such as phosphates and carbonates did not greatly affect mobilization of heavy metals leached from these samples. Increased metal mobilization from unsaturated columns was often associated with decreased leachate ph and increased sulfate production, but was not observed in all samples examined. Results from these and other studies suggest that the driving force for metal dissolution and/or acid formation in unsaturated mine tailings is the oxidation of metal sulfides by atmospheric oxygen. The maintenance of tailings at or near saturation or the exclusion of atmospheric oxygen appears to produce leachates of nearly constant to slowly decreasing metal concentrations with each subsequent leaching.
Publication Date
Document Type
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
OP 69-90
NIOSH Division
Source Name
Vol. I 5th Billings Symp. Dist. Land Rehab, Mt. St. Univ. Recl. Res. Up 9003,3/25-30/90 Pp27-40
Page last reviewed: November 26, 2021
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division