Environmental Earth Sciences

, Volume 62, Issue 1, pp 185–196 | Cite as

Mineralogical and geochemical investigations of silicate-rich mine waste from a kyanite mine in central Virginia: implications for mine waste recycling

  • Greg Geise
  • Erin LeGalley
  • Mark P. S. KrekelerEmail author
Original Article


A kyanite mine in central Virginia produces a silicate-rich waste stream which accumulates at a rate of 450,000–600,000 tons per year. An estimated 27 million tons of this waste stream has accumulated over the past 60 years. Grain size distribution varies between 1.000 and 0.053 mm, and is commonly bimodal with modes typically being 0.425 and 0.250 mm and uniformity coefficients vary from 2.000 to 2.333. Hydraulic conductivity values vary from 0.017 to 0.047 cm/s. Mineralogy of the waste stream consists of quartz, muscovite, kyanite and hematite. Muscovite grains have distinct chemical compositions with significant Na2O content (1.12–2.66 wt%), TiO2 content (0.63–1.68 wt% TiO2) and Fe content, expressed as Fe2O3 (up to 1.37 wt%). Major element compositions of samples were dominated by SiO2 (87.894–90.997 wt%), Al2O3 (6.759–7.741 wt%), Fe2O3 (1.136–1.283 wt%), and K2O (0.369–0.606 wt%) with other components being <1.000 wt%. Elements of environmental concern (V, Cr, Ni, Cu, Zn, As, Ag, Sn, Sb, Ba, Hg, Tl, and Pb) were detected; however, the concentrations of all elements except Ni were below that of the kyanite quartzites in the region from which the waste is derived. Both major and trace element compositions indicate minimal variation in composition. The waste stream has potential for recycling. Muscovite is suitable for recycling as a paint pigment or other industrial applications. Muscovite and hematite are commonly intergrown and are interpreted to be material where much of the elements of environmental concern are concentrated. Reprocessing of the waste stream to separate muscovite from other components may enable the waste stream to be used as constructed wetland media for Virginia and nearby states. Recycling of this mine waste may have a positive impact on the local economy of Buckingham County and aid in mitigation of wetland loss.


Mine waste Recycling Mineralogy Kyanite Virginia 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Greg Geise
    • 1
  • Erin LeGalley
    • 1
  • Mark P. S. Krekeler
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of GeologyMiami UniversityOxfordUSA
  2. 2.Department of GeologyMiami University-HamiltonHamiltonUSA

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