Arsenic Adsorption by Some Iron Oxide Minerals: Influence of Interfacial Chemistry
The dramatic increase in hydrometallurgical extraction of gold from arsenic bearing gold ores has inevitably resulted in the release of arsenic into the environment worldwide. Residual arsenic minerals in tailings storage facilities can be oxidised and mobilise arsenic into the environment. This can contaminate soils, ground and surface waters and eventually biota. In spite of well-established technologies and recent advances in arsenic remediation, there are limited knowledge and understanding of the iron oxide substrate (goethite, hematite and magnetite) mineralogy and the fate of arsenic on the surface charge of these iron oxide substrates in an aqueous media during adsorption. The aim of the present study was to investigate the influence of interfacial chemistry on arsenic adsorption onto selected iron oxide particles to assist in developing a better understanding and new knowledge in arsenic removal from contaminated waters. Bulk mineralogy and partial chemical composition of selected iron oxide minerals were obtained using quantitative x-ray diffractometry (QXRD) and acid digestion followed by metal determination using inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES) respectively. Zeta Potential measurements involving iron oxide particles as arsenic adsorbents were carried out to elucidate the influence of interfacial chemistry on the adsorption behavior of arsenic from solution. The study confirmed that the iron oxide minerals were predominantly hematite, magnetite and goethite with goethite containing significant amounts of quartz. Arsenic adsorption was pH dependent and strongly influenced the zeta potential and isoelectric point (IEP) of the iron oxide particles. The zeta potential of all substrates studied was strongly positive at pH 2 but indicated a reversal at pH ~ > 9. The interaction between substrates, arsenic and its hydrolysable products resulted in significant decrease in the magnitude of zeta potential and change in IEP indicating specific adsorption.
Keywords: Arsenic, Adsorption, Iron Oxide Minerals, Zeta Potential