Distribution of Zinc, Copper, and Iron in the Tailings Dam of an Abandoned Mine in Shimokawa, Hokkaido, Japan

  • Kimleang KhoeurnEmail author
  • Asuka Sasaki
  • Shingo Tomiyama
  • Toshifumi Igarashi
Technical Article


This paper addresses the mechanism of acid mine drainage generation in tailings from an abandoned mine site and predicts the evolution of zinc (Zn), copper (Cu), and iron (Fe) concentrations. Batch leaching experiments and sequential extractions were conducted to investigate the leaching behavior of these contaminants from the tailings and to understand their solid-phase partitioning. Acid-base accounting and principal component analysis (PCA) were used to confirm factors affecting Zn, Cu, and Fe leaching and acid formation based on the leaching experiments. There were strong positive correlations between Zn, Fe, or EC and SO42−, indicating that pyrite and sphalerite are the major minerals releasing Zn and Fe. This aligns with the PCA results. In the upper part of the tailings, the water-soluble and sulfide fractions of Zn, Cu, and Fe were almost flushed out, whereas they remained high in the deeper tailings. This implies that the tailings will likely continue to release these contaminants (Zn > Cu > Fe) for a long time unless remedial measures are taken.


Acid mine drainage (AMD) Tailings Toxic elements Principal component analysis (PCA) 

Verteilung von Zink, Kupfer und Eisen im Tailings-Becken eines stillgelegten Bergwerks in Shimokawa, Hokkaido, Japan


Dieser Artikel behandelt die Mechanismen der Bildung von saurem Grubenwasser in Tailings stillgelegter Bergwerke und prognostiziert die Entwicklung der Konzentrationen von Zink (Zn), Kupfer (Cu) und Eisen (Fe). Auswaschungsversuche (Bach-Ansatz) und sequentielle Extraktionen wurden durchgeführt, um das Auswaschungsverhalten dieser Metalle aus den Tailings und deren Festphasenverteilung zu verstehen. Basierend auf den Auswaschungstests wurden Säure-Base-Bilanzen und die Hauptkomponentenanalyse benutzt, um die Faktoren zu bestätigen, die die Auswaschung von Zn, Cu und Fe sowie die Säurebildung beeinflussen. Es zeigten sich starke positive Korrelationen Zn, Fe oder elektrischer Leitfähigkeit mit Sulfat. Das wies auf Pyrit und Sphalerit als wichtigste Minerale hin, die Zn und Fe freisetzen und passt zu den Ergebnissen der Hauptkomponentenanalyse. Im oberen Teil der Tailings waren die wasserlöslichen und die Sulfidfraktionen von Zn, Cu und Fe fast ausgewaschen während deren Konzentrationen in den tieferen Bereichen hoch blieben. Das weist darauf hin, dass die Tailings noch für lange Zeit die Kontaminanten (Zn>Cu>Fe) abgeben werden, solange keine Sanierungsmaßnahmen erfolgen.

Distribución de cinc, hierro y cobre en el dique de relaves de una mina abandonada en Shimokawa, Hokkaido, Japan


Este trabajo informa el mecanismo de la generación de drenaje ácido de minas en las colas de una mina abandonada y predice la evolución de las concentraciones de cinc (Zn), de cobre (Cu) y de hierro (Fe). Los experimentos batch de lixiviación y las extracciones secuenciales se realizaron para estudiar el comportamiento de estos contaminantes frente a la lixiviación de los relaves y para interpretar la partición en la fase sólida. El balance ácido-base y el análisis de componentes principales (PCA) se usaron para confirmar los factores que afectan la lixiviación de Zn, Cu y Fe y la formación de ácido basada en los experimentos de lixiviación. Hubo fuertes correlaciones positivas entre Zn, Fe o EC y SO 4 2- , lo que indica que la pirita y la esfalerita son los minerales principales que liberan Zn y Fe. Esto se alinea con los resultados de PCA. En la parte superior de las colas, las fracciones solubles en agua y sulfuradas de Zn, Cu y Fe se lavaron en gran cantidad, mientras que se mantuvieron a mayor profundidad en los relaves. Esto significa que los relaves continuarán liberando estos contaminantes (Zn > Cu > Fe) por un largo tiempo salvo que se tomen medidas correctivas.



研究不废弃矿井尾矿产酸机理和预测了锌、铜和铁浓度分布。利用批次淋滤和顺序提取试验研究尾矿污染物的淋滤行为和固相分配特征。在淋滤试验基础上,通过酸-碱平衡和主成分分析(PCA)确定影响锌、铜和铁淋滤及产酸的影响因子。锌、铁、EC和SO 4 2- 具有很强正相关性,说明黄铁矿和闪锌矿是主要锌和铁释放矿物,主成分分析结果也证明了这一点。在尾声矿上部,锌、铜和铁硫化物的可溶部分被冲出,但是尾矿深部仍保持较高浓度。除非采用防治措施,尾矿仍将继续长期释放污染物(锌>铜>铁)。



The authors gratefully appreciate EcoManagement Corporation for their assistance during the field sampling and for providing us with the study site’s geological data. The authors thank the anonymous reviewers for their valuable input and the journal’s editors for their helpful comments and review of the English.

Supplementary material

10230_2018_566_MOESM1_ESM.docx (59 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 59 KB)


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Sustainable Resources Engineering, Graduate School of EngineeringHokkaido UniversitySapporoJapan
  2. 2.Division of Sustainable Resources Engineering, Faculty of EngineeringHokkaido UniversitySapporoJapan

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