One of the serious environmental problems that society is facing today is mine tailings. These byproducts of the process of extraction of valuable elements from ores are a source of pollution and a threat to the environment. For example, mine tailings from past mining activities at Giant Mines, Yellowknife, are deposited in chambers, stopes, and tailing ponds close to the shores of The Great Slave Lake. One of the environmentally friendly approaches for removing heavy metals from these contaminated tailing is by using biosurfactants during the process of soil washing. The objective of this present study is to investigate the effect of sophorolipid (SL) concentration, the volume of washing solution per gram of medium, pH, and temperature on the efficiency of sophorolipids in removing heavy metals from mine tailings. It was found that the efficiency of the sophorolipids depends on its concentration, and is greatly affected by changes in pH, and temperature. The results of this experiment show that increasing the temperature from 15 to 23 °C, while using sophorolipids, resulted in an increase in the removal of iron, copper, and arsenic from the mine tailing specimen, from 0.25, 2.1, and 8.6 to 0.4, 3.3, and 11.7%. At the same time, increasing the temperature of deionized water (DIW) from 15 to 23 °C led to an increase in the removal of iron, copper, and arsenic from 0.03, 0.9, and 1.8 to 0.04, 1.1, and 2.1%, respectively. By increasing temperature from 23 to 35 °C, when using sophorolipids, 22% reduction in the removal of arsenic was observed. At the same time while using DI water as the washing solution, increasing temperature from 23 to 35 °C resulted in 6.2% increase in arsenic removal. The results from this present study indicate that sophorolipids are promising agents for replacing synthetic surfactants in the removal of arsenic and other heavy metals from soil and mine tailings.
The blue mussel (Mytilus sp.) has been used to assess the potential biological effects of the discharge effluent from the Omya Hustadmarmor mine, which releases its tailings into the Frænfjord near Molde, Norway. Chemical body burden and a suite of biological effects markers were measured in mussels positioned for 8?weeks at known distances from the discharge outlet. The biomarkers used included: condition index (CI); stress on stress (SoS); micronuclei formation (MN); acetylcholine esterase (AChE) inhibition, lipid peroxidation (LPO) and Neutral lipid (NL) accumulation. Methyl triethanol ammonium (MTA), a chemical marker for the esterquat based flotation chemical (FLOT2015), known to be used at the mine, was detected in mussels positioned 1500?m and 2000?m downstream from the discharge outlet. Overall the biological responses indicated an increased level of stress in mussels located closest to the discharge outlet. The same biomarkers (MN, SoS, NL) were responsible for the integrated biological response (IBR/n) of the two closest stations and indicates a response to a common point source. The integrated biological response index (IBR/n) reflected the expected level of exposure to the mine effluent, with the highest IBR/n calculated in mussels positioned closest to the discharge. Principal component analysis (PCA) also showed a clear separation between the mussel groups, with the most stressed mussels located closest to the mine tailing outlet. Although not one chemical factor could explain the increased stress on the mussels, highest metal (As, Co, Ni, Cd, Zn, Ag, Cu, Fe) and MTA concentrations were detected in the mussel group located closest to the mine discharge.
Overland transport of ore concentrate from the Red Dog lead/zinc mine in northwest Alaska to its seaport has historically raised concerns among local subsistence users regarding the potential impacts of fugitive dust from the operation, including the potential uptake of metals into caribou meat. Caribou are an integral part of life for northern Alaska Natives for both subsistence and cultural reasons. The Western Arctic caribou herd, whose range includes the Red Dog mine, transportation corridor, and port site, sometimes overwinter in the vicinity of mine operations. A weight of evidence approach using multiple lines of evidence was used to evaluate potential risks associated with subsistence consumption of caribou harvested near the road and mine. Data from a long-term caribou monitoring program indicate a lack of consistent trends for either increasing or decreasing metals concentrations in caribou muscle, liver, and kidney tissue. Lead, cadmium, and zinc from all tissues were within the range of reference concentrations reported for caribou elsewhere in Northern Alaska. In addition, a site use study based on data from satellite-collared caribou from the Western Arctic Herd showed that caribou utilize the area near the road, port, and mine approximately 1/20th to 1/90th of the time assumed in a human health risk assessment conducted for the site, implying that risks were significantly overestimated in the risk assessment. The results from multiple lines of evidence consistently indicate that fugitive dust emissions from Red Dog Operations are not a significant source of metals in caribou, and that caribou remain safe for human consumption.
Increased metal mining in the Arctic region has caused elevated loads of arsenic (As), antimony (Sb), nickel (Ni), and sulfate (SO42-) to recipient surface or groundwater systems. The need for cost-effective active and passive mine water treatment methods has also increased. Natural peatlands are commonly used as a final step for treatment of mining influenced water. However, their permanent retention of harmful substances is affected by influent concentrations and environmental conditions. The effects of dilution, pH, temperature, oxygen availability, and contaminant accumulation on retention and leaching of As, Sb, Ni, and sulfate from mine process water and drainage water obtained from treatment peatlands in Finnish Lapland were studied in batch sorption experiments, and discussed in context of field data and environmental impacts. The results, while demonstrating effectiveness of peat to remove the target contaminants from mine water, revealed the risk of leaching of As, Sb, and SO42- from treatment peatlands when diluted mine water was introduced. Sb was more readily leached compared to As while leaching of both was supported by higher pH of 9. No straightforward effect of temperature and oxygen availability in controlling removal and leaching was evident from the results. The results also showed that contaminant accumulation in treatment peatlands after long-term use can lead to decreased removal and escalated leaching of contaminants, with the effect being more pronounced for As and Ni.
Department of Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering, Queen's University, 36 Union St., Kingston, ON K7L 3N6, Canada; Department of Earth Sciences, University of Southern California, 3651 Trousdale Pkwy, Los Angeles, CA 90089, USA. Electronic address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The controls on the mobility and fate of arsenic in lakes impacted by historical gold ore roasting in northern Canada have been examined. A detailed characterization of arsenic solid and aqueous phases in lake waters, lake sediments and sediment porewaters as well as surrounding soils was conducted in three small lakes (80 wt%) of arsenic is contained in the form of secondary sulphide precipitates, with iron oxy-hydroxides hosting a minimal amount of arsenic (
The applicability of an in situ incubation method in monitoring the effects of metal mining on early life stages of fish was evaluated by investigating the impacts of a biomining technology utilizing mine on the mortality, growth, and yolk consumption of brown trout (Salmo trutta) and whitefish (Coregonus lavaretus) embryos. Newly fertilized eggs were incubated from autumn 2014 to spring 2015 in six streams under the influence of the mine located in North-Eastern Finland and in six reference streams. Although the impacted streams clearly had elevated concentrations of several metals and sulfate, the embryonic mortality of the two species did not differ between the impacted and the reference streams. Instead, particle accumulation to some cylinders had a significant impact on the embryonic mortality of both species. In clean cylinders, mortality was higher in streams with lower minimum pH. However, low pH levels were evident in both the reference and the mine-impacted groups. The embryonic growth of neither species was impacted by the mining activities, and the growth and yolk consumption of the embryos was mainly regulated by water temperature. Surprisingly, whitefish embryos incubated in streams with lower minimum pH had larger body size. In general, the applied in situ method is applicable in boreal streams for environmental assessment and monitoring, although in our study, we did not observe a specific mining impact differing from the effects of other environmental factors related to catchment characteristics.
During 1960-94 tailings from an ilmenite mine in southwest Norway were placed in sea deposits in a sheltered fjord and a more exposed coastal basin. In 2015 both deposit sites were sampled to assess the state of metal contamination and macrobenthic communities 20-30?years after deposition was ended. The results showed that nickel and copper still exceeded environmental quality standards in sediment and pore water from the 0-1?cm layer, and fluxes of nickel, copper and cobalt to the overlying water was high compared to adjacent reference stations. Fauna communities were classified as good, but moderate disturbance was recorded along an environmental gradient defined by depth and tailings-induced parameters such as particle size and copper. The results were interpreted in terms of current discharges, biological sediment reworking and near-surface leaching of metal sulphides. No evidence was found for recycling of metals from tailings buried below the bioturbated surface layer.
Bocock Chair for Agriculture and the Environment, Department of Renewable Resources, University of Alberta, 348B South Academic Building, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2H1, Canada. Electronic address: email@example.com.
Sci Total Environ. 2019 Feb 10; 650(Pt 2):2559-2566
It has been suggested that open pit mining and upgrading of bitumen in northern Alberta releases Tl and other potentially toxic elements to the Athabasca River and its watershed. We examined Tl and other trace elements in otoliths of Trout-perch (Percopsis omiscomaycus), a non-migratory fish species, collected along the Athabasca River. Otoliths were analyzed using ICP-QMS, following acid digestion, in the metal-free, ultraclean SWAMP laboratory. Compared to their average abundance in the dissolved (
Chronic arsenicosis and cadmium exposure in wild snowshoe hares (Lepus americanus) breeding near Yellowknife, Northwest Territories (Canada), part 1: Evaluation of oxidative stress, antioxidant activities and hepatic damage.
Previous gold mining activities and arsenopyrite ore roasting activities at the Giant mine site (1948 to 2004) resulted in the release of high amounts of arsenic and trace metals into the terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada. While elevated levels of arsenic has been consistently reported in surface soils and vegetation near the vicinity of the Giant mine area and in surrounding locations, systematic studies evaluating the overall health status of terrestrial small mammals endemic to the area are lacking. The purpose of this present study was to evaluate and comparatively assess the biochemical responses and histopathological effects induced by chronic arsenic and cadmium exposure in wild snowshoe hares breeding near the city of Yellowknife, specifically around the vicinity of the abandoned Giant mine site and in reference locations. Analysis included measurement of total arsenic and cadmium concentration in nails, livers, kidneys, bones, stomach content of hares, in addition to histopathological evaluation of hepatic and ocular lesions. Biochemical responses were determined through measurement of lipid peroxidation levels and antioxidant enzymes activities (catalase, superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase, and glutathione disulfide). The results revealed that arsenic concentration was 17.8 to 48.9 times higher in the stomach content, and in the range of 4 to 23 times elevated in the nails of hares from the mine area compared to the reference location. Arsenic and cadmium levels were also noted to be increased in the bones, renal and hepatic tissues of hares captured near the mine area compared to the reference site. Specifically, hares from the mine area showed nail cadmium levels that was 2.3 to 17.6 times higher than those from the reference site. Histopathological examination of the eyes revealed no specific ocular lesions, such as lens opacity (cataracts) or conjunctivitis; however, hares from both locations exhibited hepatic steatosis (fatty liver change). Lipid peroxidation levels were relatively increased and accompanied with reduced antioxidant enzyme activities in hares from the mine area compared to the hares from the reference site. The results of this preliminary study suggest that the snowshoe hares breeding near the vicinity of Yellowknife, including near the Giant mine area have been chronically exposed to elevated levels of arsenic and cadmium, which consequently led to the increased levels of oxidative stress and perturbation of antioxidant defense system in exposed animals. The results of this present study constitute the first observation of chronic arsenicosis in wild small mammal species in Canada.
We examined the historical deposition of polycyclic aromatic compounds (PACs) recorded in radiometrically-dated lake sediment cores from a small, conventional oil and gas operation in the southern Northwest Territories (Cameron Hills), and placed these results in the context of previously published work from three other important regions of western Canada: (1) the Athabasca oil sands region in Alberta; (2) Cold Lake, Alberta; and (3) the Mackenzie Delta, NT. Sediment PAC records from the Cameron Hills showed no clear changes in either source or concentrations coincident with the timing of development in these regions. Changes were small in comparison to the clear increases in both parent and alkyl-substituted PACs in response to industrial development from the Athabasca region surface mining of oil sands, where parent PAC diagnostic ratios indicated a shift from pyrogenic sources (primarily wood and coal burning) in pre-development sediments to more petrogenically-sourced PACs in modern sediments. Cores near in-situ oil sand extraction operations showed only modest increases in PAC deposition. This work directly compares the history and trajectory of contamination in lake ecosystems in areas of western Canada impacted by the most common types of hydrocarbon extraction activities, and provides a context for assessing the environmental impacts of oil and gas development in the future.