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Phosphate amendment of metalliferous waste rocks, Century Pb–Zn mine, Australia: Laboratory and field trials


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Mauric, A and Lottermoser, BG (2011) Phosphate amendment of metalliferous waste rocks, Century Pb–Zn mine, Australia: Laboratory and field trials. Applied Geochemistry, 26. pp. 45-56. ISSN 0883-2927

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The aim of the study was to determine whether the application of phosphate compounds (phosphorite rock, phosphate fertilizer) to polyminerallic waste rocks can inhibit sulfide oxidation and metal mobility (Cu, Pb, Zn, Cd, Ni, Mn, Mg). Waste rocks comprised sulfidic carbonaceous shales and were sourced from the Century Pb–Zn mine, NW Queensland, Australia. The acid producing, Pb–Zn rich rocks consisted of major quartz, muscovite/illite, dolomite, siderite and kaolinite as well as smaller amounts of sulfide minerals (e.g. galena, sphalerite, pyrite). Laboratory leach experiments were conducted on finely granulated phosphate-treated waste rocks (>2 to <30 mm) over 13 weeks, whereas phosphate amendment of coarsely granulated waste rocks (sand to boulder size) was investigated using heap leach piles at the mine site over an 11 months period. Results of the laboratory experiments demonstrate that the treatment of finely granulated waste rocks with phosphorite rock produced leachates with near-neutral pH values due to calcite dissolution. This in turn did not allow the leaching of apatite, formation of secondary phosphate phases and phosphate stabilization to occur. Metal mobility in these amended wastes was restricted by the dissolution of calcite and the resultant near-neutral pH conditions. By contrast, the application of the water-soluble phosphate fertilizer MKP (KH2PO4) to polyminerallic sulfidic waste rocks during the shortterm laboratory experiments led to the formation of phosphate coatings and precipitates and inhibited acid and metal release (Cd, Mn, Ni, Pb, Zn). At least in the short term, the application of phosphate fertilizers proved to be an effective method. However, results of the long-term field trials demonstrate that coarsely granulated waste rocks were not coated by secondary phosphate phases and that amendment by phosphorite rock or superphosphate fertilizer did not improve leachate quality compared to the unamended waste. Thus, phosphate stabilization appears ineffective in suppressing oxidation of sulfides in coarsely granulated mine wastes.

Item Type: Article
Journal or Publication Title: Applied Geochemistry
Page Range: pp. 45-56
ISSN: 0883-2927
Identification Number - DOI: 10.1016/j.apgeochem.2010.11.002
Additional Information: The definitive version is available at
Date Deposited: 12 Aug 2011 04:48
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2014 04:21
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