Acid-forming capacity of lead-zinc mine tailings and its implications for mine rehabilitation

Jonathan W C WONG, C. M. Ip, Ming Hung WONG

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

84 Citations (Scopus)


Acid mine drainage problems were experienced in a Pb-Zn mine operation at Lechang, in the northern part of Guangdong Province, People's Republic of China. Geochemical and acid generation evaluations were made on fresh tailings including tailings fine, tailings sand and high sulphide tailings, and oxidised tailings with the aim of providing information on mine rehabilitation. All fresh tailings had a pH higher than 7 while the oxidised tailings had a pH of 4.9 (range 1.6 to 7.4). Only samples with pH <3 had an electrical conductivity (EC)>4 dS m-1. Total S content of all tailings samples were very high with the high sulphide fraction having a mean S content of 38%. All fresh tailings had a high acid neutralisation capacity (ANC) while half of the oxidised tailings had an ANC less than zero. The results from the acid-base account and the net acid generation test indicated that all fresh and oxidised tailings samples were acid-forming except for the sand fraction samples. All tailings samples contained high total concentrations of Cd, Cu, Fe, Pb and Zn but low concentrations of total nitrogen and phosphorus. The preliminary results demonstrated that the tailings were all acid-forming especially the high sulphide fraction which should be kept permanently unexposed under impermeable cap or water.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-155
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Geochemistry and Health
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1998

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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