Mobilization of Ag, heavy metals and Eu from the waste deposit of the Las Herrerias mine (Almería, SE Spain)

A. Navarro, E. Cardellach

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We studied the mobility of silver, heavy metals and europium in waste from the Las Herrerías mine in Almería (SE Spain). The most abundant primary mineral phases in the mine wastes are hematite, hydrohematite, barite, quartz, muscovite, anorthite, calcite and phillipsite. The minor phase consisted of primary minerals including ankerite, cinnabar, digenite, magnesite, stannite, siderite and jamesonite, and secondary minerals such as glauberite, szomolnokite, thenardite and uklonscovite. The soils show high concentrations of Ag (mean 21.6 mg kg-1), Ba (mean 2.5%), Fe (mean 114,000 mg kg -1), Sb (mean 342.5 mg kg-1), Pb (mean 1,229.8 mg kg -1), Zn (mean 493 mg kg-1), Mn (mean 4,321.1 mg kg -1), Cd (mean 1.2 mg kg-1) and Eu (mean 4.0 mg kg -1). The column experiments showed mobilization of Ag, Al, Ba, Cu, Cd, Eu, Fe, Mn, Ni, Sb, Pb and Zn, and the inverse modelling showed that the dissolution of hematite, hausmannite, pyrolusite and anglesite can largely account for the mobilization of Fe, Mn and Pb in the leaching experiment. The mobility of silver may be caused by the presence of kongsbergite and chlorargyrite in the waste, while the mobility of Eu seems to be determined by Eu(OH)3, which controls the solubility of Eu in the pH-Eh conditions of the experiments. The mineralogy, pH, Eh and geochemical composition of the mine wastes may explain the possible mobilization of heavy metals and metalloids. However, the absence of contaminants in the groundwater may be caused by the carbonate-rich environment of "host-rocks" that limits their mobility. © 2008 Springer-Verlag.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1389-1404
JournalEnvironmental geology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2009


  • Ag
  • Heavy metals
  • Leaching
  • Mine wastes
  • Mineral phase


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