Sequential extraction and leaching characteristics of heavy metals in abandoned tungsten mine tailings sediments

Pyeong Koo Lee, Min Ju Kang, Ho Young Jo, Sang Hoon Choi

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28 Citations (Scopus)


The chemical speciation of potentially toxic elements (As, Cd, Cu, Pb, and Zn) in the contaminated soils and sulfides-rich tailings sediments of an abandoned tungsten mine in Korea was evaluated by conducting modified BCR sequential extraction tests. Kinetic and static batch leaching tests were also conducted to evaluate the potential release of As and other heavy metals by acidic rain water and the leaching behaviors of these heavy metals. The major sources of the elements were As-, Zn- and Pb-bearing sulfides, Pb carbonates (i. e., cerussite), and Pb sulfates (i. e., anglesite). The biggest pollutant fraction in these soil and tailing samples consists of metals bound to the oxidizable host phase, which can be released into the environment if conditions become oxidative, and/or to residual fractions. No significant difference in total element concentrations was observed between the tailings sediments and contaminated soils. For both sample types, almost no changes occurred in the mobility of As and the other heavy metals at 7 days, but the mobility increased afterwards until the end of the tests at 30 days, regardless of the initial pH. However, the mobility was approximately 5-10 times higher at initial pH 1.0 than at initial pHs of 3.0 and 5.0. The leached amounts of all the heavy metal contents were higher from tailings sediments than from contaminated soils at pH > 3.0, but were lower at pH < 3.0 except for As. Results of this study suggest that further dissolution of heavy metals from soil and tailing samples may occur during extended rainfall, resulting in a serious threat to surface and groundwater in the mine area.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1909-1923
Number of pages15
JournalEnvironmental Earth Sciences
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Aug

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments This work was financed by the Core R&D Program of the Korean Ministry of Science and Technology, under contract M1-0324-00-0009-03-B31-00-003-00 with the Korea Institute of S&T Evaluation and Planning.


  • Leaching experiment
  • Secondary mineral
  • Speciation
  • Sulfide mineral
  • Trace metal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Pollution
  • Geology
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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