Skip to main content

Distribution and Speciation of Mercury in Mine Waste Dumps


Mine waste dumps of historic mercury mines represent environmental threat. In the central Czech Republic, Hg ores were mined at two sites for more than 150 years. Mine wastes collected from dumps near Hg mines were elevated in total Hg (up to 120 μg g−1). Thermal-desorption method revealed that most of Hg (>80%) in studied waste material was present as cinnabar (HgS), that is relatively stable in soils and resistant to formation of highly toxic methyl–Hg. Nevertheless minor part (<14%) of total Hg was identified as mineral surface bound Hg, which might undergo methylation and thus represents potential long-term environmental risk.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3


  1. Arias M, Barral MT, Da Silva-Carvalhal J, Mejuto JC, Rubinos D (2004) Interaction of Hg(II) with kaolin-humic acid complexes. Clay Miner 39:35–45

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. Biester H, Gosar M, Müller G (1999) Mercury speciation in tailings of the Idrija mercury mine. J Geochem Explor 65:195–204

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. Biester H, Scholz C (1997) Determination of mercury binding forms in contaminated soils: mercury pyrolysis versus sequential extractions. Environ Sci Technol 31:233–239

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. Cornell RM, Schwertmann US (1996) The iron oxides structure, properties, reactions, occurrence and uses. Wiley-VCH Verlag, Weinheim

    Google Scholar 

  5. Czech Regulation 13/1994 (1994) Specifications for protection of agricultural soils. Ministry of Environment of the Czech Republic, Prague (in Czech)

  6. Ebinghaus R, Turner RR, de Lacerda LD, Vasiliev O, Salomons W (eds) (1998) Mercury contaminated sites. Springer Verlag, Berlin

    Google Scholar 

  7. Ettler V, Rohovec J, Navrátil T, Mihaljevič M (2007) Mercury distribution in soil profiles polluted by lead smelting. B Environ Contam 78:12–16

    Google Scholar 

  8. Feng X, Lu JY, Gregoire DC, Hao Y, Banic CM, Schroeder WH (2004) Analysis of inorganic mercury species associated with airborne particulate matter/aerosols: method development. Anal Bional Chem 380:683–689

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. Gray JE, Hines ME, Biester H, Lasorsa BK (2003) Mercury methylation in mine wastes collected from abandoned mercury mines in the USA. J Phys 107(1):573–576

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. ISO 14235 (1998) Soil quality – determination of organic carbon by sulfochromic oxidation

  11. Loredo J, Álvarez R, Ordónez A (2005) Release of toxic metals and metalloids from Los Rueldos mercury mine (Asturias, Spain). Sci Total Environ 340:247–260

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  12. Ravichandran M, Aiken GR, Reddy MM, Ryan JN (1998) Enhanced dissolution of cinnabar (mercuric sulfide) by dissolved organic matter isolated from the Florida Everglades. Environ Sci Technol 32:3305–3311

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  13. Sattran V, Maňour J, Odehnal L, Pták J, Zima L (1978) Regional prognosis of Hg-mineralization in Bohemian Massif. Czech Geological Survey, Prague (In Czech)

  14. Suchara I, Sucharová J (2002) Distribution of sulphur and heavy metals in forest floor humus of the Czech Republic. Water Air Soil Poll 136:289–316

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  15. Velebil D (2004) Mining of cinnabar near Svatá village, WSW of Beroun, Czech Republic Bull mineral-petrolog Odd Nár Muz Praha 12:78–94 (In Czech)

    Google Scholar 

  16. Velebil D (2003) Jedová Hora Hill (Dědova Hora Hill, Giftberg) near Neřežín, Czech Republic Bull mineral-petrolog Odd Nár Muz Praha 11:86–99 (In Czech)

    Google Scholar 

  17. Wang W, Driscoll CT (1995) Patterns of total mercury concentrations in Onondaga lake, New-York. Environ Sci Technol 29(9):2261–2266

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  18. Windmöller C, Wilken RD, Jardim W (1996) Mercury speciation in contaminated soils by thermal release analysis. Water Air Soil Poll 89:399–416

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


The study was supported by grant No. B300130615, Grant Agency of the Czech Academy of Sciences (ASCR). Long-term financial support for the project was provided by the Institute of Geology of ASCR, project No. AV0Z30130516. We thank to V. Ettler for helpful comments and A. Amirbahman for help with final version of the article.

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Maria Hojdová.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Hojdová, M., Navrátil, T. & Rohovec, J. Distribution and Speciation of Mercury in Mine Waste Dumps. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 80, 237–241 (2008).

Download citation


  • Mercury
  • Mine waste
  • Mercury speciation
  • Thermo-desorption analysis