Immobilization of Cu, Pb and Zn in mine-contaminated soils using reactive materials

Andrés Navarro, Esteve Cardellach, Mercé Corbella

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Immobilization processes were used to chemically stabilize soil contaminated with Cu, Pb and Zn from mine tailings and industrial impoundments. We examined the effectiveness of ordinary Portland cement (OPC), phosphoric acid and MgO at immobilizing Cu, Pb and Zn in soil contaminated by either mine tailings or industrial and mine wastes.The effectiveness was evaluated using column leaching experiments and geochemical modelling, in which we assessed possible mechanisms for metal immobilization using PHREEQC and Medusa numerical codes.Experimental results showed that Cu was mobilized in all the experiments, whereas Pb immobilization with H3PO4 may have been related to the precipitation of chloropyromorphite. Thus, the Pb concentrations of leachates of pure mining and industrial contaminated soils (32-410μg/l and 430-1000μg/l, respectively) were reduced to 1-60 and 3-360μg/l, respectively, in the phosphoric acid experiment. The mobilization of Pb at high alkaline conditions, when Pb(OH)4- is the most stable species, may be the main obstacle to the use of OPC and MgO in the immobilization of this metal.In the mining- and industry-contaminated soil, Zn was retained by OPC but removed by MgO. The experiments with OPC showed the Zn decrease in the leachates of mining soil from 226-1960 μg/l to 92-121 μg/l. In the industrial contaminated soil, the Zn decrease in the leachates was most elevated, showing >2500 μg/l in the leachates of contaminated soil and 76-173 μg/l in the OPC experiment.Finally, when H3PO4 was added, Zn was mobilized. © 2010 Elsevier B.V.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1576-1585
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2011


  • Column experiments
  • Geochemical modelling
  • Immobilization
  • Leaching
  • Metals


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