Metal Leaching from Sulphide Mine Waste Under Neutral pH Conditions

Nicholson, R. V. ; Rinker, Michael J.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 7
Publication Date: Jan 1, 2000
Waste rock and tailings from a proposed nickel-copper mine were evaluated extensively for potential on-land and under water disposal. Standard humidity cell and column tests were conducted over a two year period and underwater tests were conducted for more than one year. Nickel concentrations or release rates from the waste were consistent with nickel to sulphur ratios in the solids. This relationship provided a tool to assess the risk of metal leaching in wastes using nickel and sulphide assays. Nickel release and mobilization was found to occur for both oxidizing leach tests and under water tests even when pH values exceeded 7.0. Geochemical model calculations showed that iron oxyhydroxide solids can scavenge nickel from leachate and that the nickel inventory can be released from solids at relatively lower, but neutral pH values.
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