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Impacts on effluent contaminants from mine sites: risk assessment, fate, and distribution of pollution at basin scale

Abstract

The environmental implications of mining activities are of worldwide concern. An environmental evaluation at the basin level was conducted because of widespread mining in Cajamarca in Northern Peru. A sediment monitoring program was developed at the Jequetepeque basin, located in Cajamarca. A total of 16 sites were monitored at three different times between June 2009 and July 2010, and a total of 42 samples were collected. All samples were analyzed by microwave digestion and by a sequential extraction scheme following the three-stage European Community Bureau of Reference (three-stage BCR) protocol. Trace element mobilization from the sediments to the water column was assessed by the risk assessment code (RAC). Spatial and temporal distribution of trace elements was evaluated by principal component analysis and hierarchical cluster analysis. Cd, Zn, As, and Pb showed the highest concentrations independent of season. Notably, Cu concentration and mobility increased during the wet season for all samples. Additionally, Hg concentration and mobility increased during the wet season near the mine sites. According to the enrichment factor, the highest enrichments of Cd, Zn, Pb, and As were related to mine runoff. The effect of trace elements near the mine sites at the Jequetepeque basin was considered a significant threat to the environment due to Cd, Zn, Pb, and As, and the concentrations of Cu and Hg were also considered a concern. This work establishes a baseline for the environmental quality status of the Jequetepeque basin that may support water quality management in Peru.

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Acknowledgement

This research was financially supported by the Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia, Madrid, CTM 2008-06776C-02, and by the UPC’s Center for Development Cooperation. The authors gratefully acknowledge the Cajamarca Regional Government, NiltonDeza, Rebeca Araujo, and GRUFIDES for support in the monitoring process. The authors are also grateful to Miriam Planas Marin for her contribution to this study and the contribution of two anonymous reviewers for their comments and constructive criticism to improve the manuscript’s quality.

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Correspondence to Cristina Yacoub.

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Responsible editor: Vera Slaveykova

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Yacoub, C., Pérez-Foguet, A., Valderrama, C. et al. Impacts on effluent contaminants from mine sites: risk assessment, fate, and distribution of pollution at basin scale. Environ Sci Pollut Res 21, 5960–5971 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-014-2559-7

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-014-2559-7

Keywords

  • Environmental pollution
  • Trace element
  • Sequential extraction
  • Enrichment factor
  • Risk assessment
  • Spatio-temporal distribution