Mineralogy of Tailings Dump around Selebi Phikwe Nickel-Copper Plant, Botswana

  • G Ekosse Department of Geology, University of Botswana, P/Bag 0022 Gaborone, Botswana
  • D J van Den Heever VDH Industrial Hygiene CC.PO. Box 26792 Langenhoven Park, 9330, Free State, South Africa
  • L de Jager Department of Environmental Health, Technikon Free State, P/Bag X20539 Bloemfontein, Free State, South Africa
  • O Totolo Department of Environmental Science, University of Botswana, P/Bag 0022 Gaborone, Botswana


This study aimed at mineralogically characterizing the tailings dump emanating from the mining and smelting of nickel-copper (Ni-Cu) at Selebi Phikwe, Botswana, Southern Africa. Samples of tailings dump around the Selebi Phikwe Ni-Cu plant were studied using petrographic microscopy and X-ray Powder Diffraction (XRPD) technique. The tailings dump comprised of the following minerals: nickelblodite, pyrrhotite, quartz, pentlandite, malachite, chalcopyrite, actinolite, cristobalite, tremolite, kaolinite, mica and albite. Nickelblodite and malachite were mineralized from the primary ore minerals in the tailings dump. The sulfur-rich minerals contained in the tailings dump serve as principal promoting sources for acid mine drainage in the immediate surrounding environment. Consequently, aspects of pollution management such as phytoremediation and phytomining, and environmental desulfurization could be introduced as pollution control measures at Selebi Phikwe.

Journal of Applied Sciences and Environmental Management Vol. 8 (1) 2004:37 - 44

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eISSN: 2659-1502
print ISSN: 1119-8362