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Environmental Geochemistry and Health

, Volume 40, Issue 1, pp 189–207 | Cite as

Environmental geochemistry of the abandoned Mamut Copper Mine (Sabah) Malaysia

  • Antony van der EntEmail author
  • Mansour Edraki
Original Paper

Abstract

The Mamut Copper Mine (MCM) located in Sabah (Malaysia) on Borneo Island was the only Cu–Au mine that operated in the country. During its operation (1975–1999), the mine produced 2.47 Mt of concentrate containing approximately 600,000 t of Cu, 45 t of Au and 294 t of Ag, and generated about 250 Mt of overburden and waste rocks and over 150 Mt of tailings, which were deposited at the 397 ha Lohan tailings storage facility, 15.8 km from the mine and 980 m lower in altitude. The MCM site presents challenges for environmental rehabilitation due to the presence of large volumes of sulphidic minerals wastes, the very high rainfall and the large volume of polluted mine pit water. This indicates that rehabilitation and treatment is costly, as for example, exceedingly large quantities of lime are needed for neutralisation of the acidic mine pit discharge. The MCM site has several unusual geochemical features on account of the concomitant occurrence of acid-forming sulphide porphyry rocks and alkaline serpentinite minerals, and unique biological features because of the very high plant diversity in its immediate surroundings. The site hence provides a valuable opportunity for researching natural acid neutralisation processes and mine rehabilitation in tropical areas. Today, the MCM site is surrounded by protected nature reserves (Kinabalu Park, a World Heritage Site, and Bukit Hampuan, a Class I Forest Reserve), and the environmental legacy prevents de-gazetting and inclusion in these protected area in the foreseeable future. This article presents a preliminary geochemical investigation of waste rocks, sediments, secondary precipitates, surface water chemistry and foliar elemental uptake in ferns, and discusses these results in light of their environmental significance for rehabilitation.

Keywords

Biodiversity Floc Kinabalu Mamut Copper Mine Malaysia Sabah 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We wish to thank Sabah Parks, the Minerals and Geosciences Department (JMG), the Sabah Forest Department and The University of Queensland. We like to extend our gratitude to Dr. Maklarin Lakim and Rimi Repin (Sabah Parks) and Mr. Kamaruddan Abdullah (JMG) for their support, and to Public Works Department (JKR) for providing access to the MCM site. We thank Rositti Karim, Sukaibin Sumail and Yabainus Juhalin for fieldwork assistance. Finally, we would like to acknowledge the SaBC for granting permission for conducting research in Sabah.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Mined Land Rehabilitation, Sustainable Minerals InstituteThe University of QueenslandSt LuciaAustralia
  2. 2.Laboratoire Sols et Environnement, UMR 1120Université de Lorraine – INRANancyFrance

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