Metal mobilization from base-metal smelting slag dumps in Sierra Almagrera (Almería, Spain)

Andrés Navarro, Esteve Cardellach, José L. Mendoza, Mercé Corbella, Luis M. Domènech

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61 Citations (Scopus)


Smelting slags associated with base-metal vein deposits of the Sierra Almagrera area (SE Spain) show high concentrations of Ag (<5-180 ppm), As (12-750 ppm), Cu (45-183 ppm), Fe (3.2-29.8%), Pb (511-2150 ppm), Sb (22-620 ppm) and Zn (639-8600 ppm). The slags are mainly composed of quartz, fayalite, barite, melilite, celsian, pyrrhotite, magnetite, galena and Zn-Pb-Fe alloys. No glassy phases were detected. The following weathering-related secondary phases were found: jarosite-natrojarosite, cotunnite, cerussite, goethite, ferrihydrite, chalcanthite, copiapite, goslarite, halotrichite and szomolnokite. The weathering of slag dumps near the Mediterranean shoreline has contaminated the soils and groundwater, which has caused concentrations in groundwater to increase to 0.64 mg/L Cu, 40 mg/L Fe, 0.6 mg/L Mn, 7.6 mg/L Zn, 5.1 mg/L Pb and 19 μg/L As. The results of laboratory leach tests showed major solubilization of Al (0.89-12.6 mg/L), Cu (>2.0 mg/L), Fe (0.22-9.8 mg/L), Mn (0.85-40.2 mg/L), Ni (0.092-2.7 mg/L), Pb (>2.0 mg/L) and Zn (>2.5 mg/L), and mobilization of Ag (0.2-31 μg/L), As (5.2-31 μg/L), Cd (1.3-36.8 μg/L) and Hg (0.2-7 μg/L). The leachates were modeled using the numerical code PHREEQC. The results suggested the dissolution of fayalite, ferrihydrite, jarosite, pyrrhotite, goethite, anglesite, goslarite, chalcanthite and cotunnite. The presence of secondary phases in the slag dumps and contaminated soils may indicate the mobilization of metals and metalloids, and help to explain the sources of groundwater contamination. © 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)895-913
JournalApplied Geochemistry
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2008


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