, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 1-15

Primary minerals of Zn-Pb mining and metallurgical dumps and their environmental behavior at Plombières, Belgium

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Abstract

The primary phases and minerals of the Plombières dumps include typical smelting furnace products such as metallic Fe, Pb, Cu, Zn, Fe-Zn alloys, carbides, phosphides, sulfides of Fe, Zn, Pb, Cu, Mn (alabandite), and FeAs. Spinels, mainly of Fe and Al, are common constituents of the primary assemblage; substitution by Zn, V, Cr, Ti, Mg, and Ca occurs. Primary phases also include the most common Zn-rich fayalite, Zn-rich Ca-Fe silicates, melilite, corundum, and apatite. Most of the Zn is incorporated in iron silicates, ZnO and ZnS. Lead occurs mainly as PbS, metallic lead, and is also present in coal residues. Cadmium is found mainly in metallic zinc and its alloys and in ZnO. The dumps also contain mining wastes composed of pyrite, melnikovite, and iron oxides produced by natural weathering of Zn-Pb ores. Melnikovite and iron oxides are rich in As, Pb, and Zn and possess an increased content of Tl. Leaching tests carried out on the surfaces of polished sections indicate that acid rain (solutions I and II) will mobilize mainly Zn and Cd and, to a much smaller extent, Pb and Sb. Leaching of metals by sulfate-chloride fluids present in the pore network of dumps (solutions III, IV, and V) depends on the pH, which in the dumps is controlled by the proportion of carbonates to sulfides. The more acid fluids leach both sulfides and silicates.