Indicators of metal pollution in prospective mining regions: a case study from Philippines

  • Kathleen Cedeno
  • Mansour Edraki
  • Neil McIntyre
  • Trang Huynh
  • Ian Callow
Original Paper


Understanding the baseline geochemistry of stream waters in a prospective mining area is the key to responsible life-of-mine planning and the protection of local rivers. This can be sometimes challenging due to the presence of abandoned mines, small scale mining, and geogenic sources of metals in the same area, particularly under a tropical humid climates with rivers carrying intermittently high solid loads. This study is focused on the Pula Bato, Danlag, Altayan, and Taplan Rivers in such a climatic setting in Philippines. The rivers are located in the vicinity of the Tampakan ore deposit. It was observed that elemental concentrations in water samples from Pula Bato were generally higher when compared to concentrations from Danlag, Taplan, and Altayan samples. In particular, SO42−, TDS, Al, Cu, Fe, Mn, Ni, and Zn present considerably higher concentrations in the water samples from Pula Bato. It was shown that water quality of Pula Bato is influenced by the natural weathering of sulphide minerals which is further enhanced by the small scale mining activities and old underground workings. The mining effects on the water of Pula Bato River were not apparent in the water of the Altayan due to the possible dilution of the uncontaminated water from Danlag River and sorption processes occurring during the course of contaminants transport. The geochemical indicators and water distinctions can be used in future for catchment-scale geochemical balance modelling.


Stream Water quality Mining Geogenic Tropical 


  1. Alderton, D. H. M., Serafimovski, B., Mullen, B., Fairall, K., & James, S. (2005). The chemistry of waters associated with metal mining in Macedonia. Mine Water and the Environment, 24, 139–149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Amadi, A. N., Yisa, J., Ogbonnaya, I. C., Dan-Hassan, M. A., Jacob, J. O., & Alkali, Y. B. (2012). Quality evaluation of river Changchaga using metal pollution index and principal component analysis. Journal of Geography and Geology, 4(2), 13–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Ardejani, F. D., Shafaei, S. Z., Shahhoseiny, M., Singh, R., & Arah-Amiri, A. R. (2011). Water quality investigations in the vicinity of an active coal washing plant in Zirab, Mazandaran province, northern Iran. In Mine water-managing the challenges (pp. 11–16). Aachen: MWA.Google Scholar
  4. Bailey, H. (2011). Environmental and social impact assessment-water resources report. Tampakan copper-gold mine project, 1-452.Google Scholar
  5. Bebbington, A., & Williams, M. (2008). Water and mining conflict in Peru. Mountain Research and Development, 28(3/4), 190–195.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cánovas, C. R., Olías, M., Nieto, J. M., Sarmiento, A. M., & Cerón, J. C. (2007). Hydrogeochemical characteristics of the Tinto and Odiel Rivers (SW Spain), factors controlling metal contents. Science of the Total Environment, 373, 363–382.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Farnham, I., Singh, A., Stetzenbach, K., & Johannesson, K. (2002). Treatment of nondetects in multivariate analysis of groundwater geochemistry data. Chemometrics and Intelligent Laboratory Systems, 60(1–2), 265–281.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Ficklin, W. H., Plumlee, G. S., Smith, K. S., & McHugh, J. B. (1992). Geochemical classification of mine drainage and natural drainage in mineralized areas. In Y. K. Kharaka & A. S. Maest (Eds.), Water-rock interactions (Vol. 1, pp. 381–384)., Proceedings, 7th international symposium on water-rock interaction, Park City, Utah, July 13–18, 1992 Rotterdam: A.A, Balkema.Google Scholar
  9. Giri, S., & Singh, A. K. (2014). Assessment of surface water quality using heavy metal pollution index in Subarnarekha River, India. Water Quality, Exposure and Health, 5(4), 173–182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Gomez-Alvarez, A., Meza-Figueroa, D., Valenzuela-Garcia, J. L., Villalba-Atondo, A. I., & Ramirez-Hernandez, J. (2014). Behaviour of metals under different seasonal conditions: effects on the quality of a Mexico-USA border river. Water Air Soil Pollution, 225, 2138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Gray, N. F. (1998). Acid mine drainage composition and the implications for its impact on lotic systems. Water Research, 32(7), 2122–2134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Huang, X., Sillanpaa, M., Gjessing, E., Peraniemi, S., & Vogt, R. D. (2010). Environmental impact of mining activities on the surface water quality in Tibet: Gyama valley. Science of the Total Environment, 404, 4177–4184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Khorasanipour, M., Tangestani, M. H., Naseh, R., & Hajmohammadi, H. (2011). Hydrochemistry, mineralogy and chemical fractionation of mine and processing wastes associated with porphyry copper mines: A case study from the Sarcheshmeh mine, SE Iran. Applied Geochemistry, 26, 714–730.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Korneeva, T. V., & Aminov, P. G. (2011). Geochemistry of interaction of mine drainage of Mednogorsk geotechnical system with rivers as a natural hydrochemical barriers. In 15th international water technology conference, IWTC, Alexandria, Egypt, 28–30 May, 2001.Google Scholar
  15. Lee, G., Bigham, J. M., & Faure, G. (2002). Removal of trace elements with FE, Al, and Mn from natural waters contaminated with acid mine drainage in the Ducktown mining district, Tennessee. Applied Geochemistry, 17, 569–581.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Meybeck, M. (1987). Global chemical weathering of surficial rocks estimated from river dissolved loads. American Journal of Science, 287, 401–428.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Middleton, C., Buenavista, A., Rohrlach, B., Gonzalez, J., Subang, L., & Moreno, G. (2004). A geological review of the Tampakan copper-gold deposit, Southern Mindanao, Philippines. Hi tech and world competitive mineral success stories around the pacific rim, PACRIM 2004 conference proceedings, PACRIM 2004 conference, Adelaide, South Australia, 19–22 September, 2004 (pp. 173–188). Melbourne: AusIMM.Google Scholar
  18. Municipal Planning and Development Office Report [MPDO]. (2010). Tampakan Municipality South Cotabato, Philippines (unpublished).Google Scholar
  19. Plumlee, G. S., Smith, K. S., Montour, M. R., Fichlin, W. H., & Mosier, E. L. (1999). Geologic control on the composition of natural waters and mine waters drainage diverse minerals-deposit types. In L. H. Filipek & G. S. Plumlee (Eds.), Environmental geochemistry of mineral deposits. Part B: case studies and research topics. Reviews in economic geology (Vol. 6B, pp. 373–432). Littleton: Society of Economic Geologists.Google Scholar
  20. Ramani, S., Dragun, Z., Kapetanovic, D., Kostov, V., Jordanova, M., & Erk, M. (2014). Surface water characterization of three rivers in the lead/zinc mining region of northeastern Macedonia. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, 66(4), 514–528.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Ribeiro, L., Oyarzún, R., Kretschmer, N., Nascimento, J., Buxo, A., & Rötting, T. S. (2014). Water quality assessment of the mining-impacted Elqui river Basin, Chile. Mine Water and the Environment, 33(2), 65–176.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Rowe, G. L., & Brantley, S. L. (1993). Estimation of the dissolution rates of andesitic glass, plagioclase and pyroxene in a flank aquifer of Poás Volcano, Costa Rica. Chemical Geology, 105(1–3), 71–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Salomons, W. (1995). Environmental impact of metals derived from mining activities: Processes, predictions, prevention. Journal of Geochemical Exploration, 52, 5–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Smith, K. S. (2007). Strategies to predict metal mobility in surficial mining environments. The Geological Society of America Reviews in Engineering Geology, 27, 25–45.Google Scholar
  25. Soltani, N., Moore, F., Keshavarzi, B., & Sharifi, R. (2014). Geochemistry of trace metals and rare earth elements in stream water, stream sediments and acid mine drainage from Darrehzar Copper Mine, Kerman, Iran. Water Quality, Exposure and Health, 6(3), 97–114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sustainable Minerals InstituteThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia

Personalised recommendations