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Influence of coal gangue aided phytostabilization on metal availability and mobility in copper mine tailings

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Copper mine tailings without proper remediation deposited permanently in tailings ponds would pose adverse impacts to the environment. Coal gangue, with high nutrients, used in infertile soil, is investigated in microcosm trials to explore the possibility of immobilize metals within the copper mine tailing in this research. Therefore, a pot trial was conducted using coal gangue and Vetiveria zizanioides for phytostabilization of the metals in copper mine tailing. Results indicated that applying coal gangue not only increased the pH, organic matter content and nutrient contents of the amended tailings, but also decreased the DTPA-extractable concentrations of Zn, Pb, Cd, and Cu in the amended tailings. The application of coal gangue converted the exchangeable and carbonate fractions of Zn, Pb, Cd, and Cu into unavailable forms of Fe–Mn oxide and/or organic matter fractions, thus reducing those metal contents in mobile fractions of the amended tailings. This study shows that treatments with coal gangue inhibited Zn, Pb, Cd, and Cu translocation from tailings to Vetiveria zizanioides. In contrast, the accumulation of Cr in the plant was increased by the addition of coal gangue. Collectively, these results support the hypothesis that coal gangue is a potential waste-derived amendment with the ability to reduce the mobility of most of the studied metals in copper mine tailings. This study also proposed a new approach to dispose the waste of coal gangue as an amendment for phytostabilization of copper mine tailings.

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The authors thank the financial supports from National Natural Science Foundation of China (51878004; 51978001; 41471422; 41402309; 51608006), Anhui Natural Science Foundation (1608085QE125; 1808085ME133), Anhui University Natural Science Research Project (KJ2019A0697; KJ2018A0473; KJ2017A463; KJ2016A827) and Anhui province university outstanding young talents at home and abroad visiting research projects (gxgwfx2019011). This work was also supported by China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (2016M602010), Anhui Postdoctoral Science Foundation (2017B147) and Maanshan Postdoctoral Science Foundation. We would also like to thank the research program from Sinosteel Maanshan Institute of Mining Research Company Limited (05417YF001), the Excellent Youth Talent Support Project of High Education of Anhui Province (gxyq2018023), the Project Funding for Young and Middle-aged Top Talents of Anhui Polytechnic University (2017), the advance research for the National Science Foundation of China (2019yyzr04, Anhui Polytechnic University), the Scientific Research Projects of Huainan Normal University (2016xj04zd; 2017xj89), and the Scientific and Technological Research and Development Project of Huaibei Mining Group in 2019. Many thanks to the supports from the Farm Er daohe parvial field in Huainan mining (group) co. LTD.

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Correspondence to Xingming Wang or Zhongbing Dong.

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Chu, Z., Wang, X., Wang, Y. et al. Influence of coal gangue aided phytostabilization on metal availability and mobility in copper mine tailings. Environ Earth Sci 79, 68 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12665-020-8807-x

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  • Chemical fractionation
  • Phytoremediation
  • Phytostabilization
  • Waste-derived amendment
  • Coal gangue
  • Mine tailing