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Leachability of metals from gold tailings by rainwater: an experimental and geochemical modelling approach

BPC Grover
RH Johnson
H Tutu


Mine leachates from gold tailings impoundments usually contain elevated concentrations of metals and sulphates that impact negatively on water quality. This study was aimed at assessing the leachability of such metals from tailings by rainwater. Oxidised and unoxidised tailings were leached experimentally and through simulations using the PHREEQC geochemical modelling code. The results revealed that the majority of readily leachable metals were held in secondary mineral phases, mainly sulphates. A good agreement between experimental and modelling techniques was obtained, indicating the potential use of geochemical modelling in future metal release studies for the site. A list of reactive minerals for the tailings material was compiled. These minerals may or may not be present in the tailings; however, the list provides a means of estimating future reactivity or bulk metal release from the tailings.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1816-7950
print ISSN: 0378-4738