Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Portuguese São Domingos mine generates acidic water following 43 years of inactivity

10.02.2009
Located five kilometers from the Spanish border, the Portuguese São Domingos mine, abandoned since 1966, continues to pollute the river ways that flow into Chanza dam, the largest drinking water reservoir in the province of Huelva, according to scientists from the University of Huelva. The new study shows that oxidation and the dissolving of sulfurs are processes that remain active today, so the researchers are asking that solution plans be put in place.

The Portuguese São Domingos mine is located in the Iberian Pyrite Belt along with other mines located on the Spanish side, such as Río Tinto or Almagrera, Huelva. The mine abounds in highly contaminating waste, such as smelting dregs and ash. Active between 1857 and 1966, over time it has generated "extremely" acidic drainage due to the oxidation of sulfuric waste.

According to Antonio M. Álvarez-Valero, lead author of the study published recently in the journal Environmental Geology and currently a researcher at the Andalusian Institute of Earth Sciences (a University of Granada - CSIC joint center), "the fundamental concern from the environmental point of view deriving from this waste oxidation is the generation of acidic waters".

And the acidic discharge from São Domingos affects Chanza dam, the largest drinking water reservoir serving Huelva, because the pollutants undergo "a relative attenuation".

To evaluate the environmental impact and determine the level of acidification of some components, the study presents a characterization of the mineralogical, geochemical and physical properties of the mining waste from the São Domingos district. "We have established, through a later work, the potential risk of moving the toxic metals in this waste, and their possible incorporation into the food chain", Álvarez-Valero explains to SINC.

Although the mine is abandoned, it remains active "from the point of view of contamination". The researcher says that the contaminating impact of the mine is renewed in annual cycles. During the wet or raining periods, the contaminating elements "re-dissolve and once again generate acidity", Álvarez-Valero points out.

The analysis shows that "the massive presence of sulfurs in São Domingos in some of the waste ensures a continuous, annual generation of acidic mine drainage", the researcher confirms.

The mine, which is considered medium in size compared to others, is exposed to "a remarkable" volume of waste: 25 Mm3. Although a large part of this waste is inaccessible because it is located beneath the town of São Domingos, "its high acidification potential represents a threat for environmental pollution", the scientist says.

Faced with this situation, the researchers say that the methodical sequence of this study should be applied to other mines in the same area, such as Caveira, Lousal, Aljustrel, in the south-east of Portugal, and Tharsis, La Zarza, Peña del Hierro, Almagrera or Río Tinto, in Huelva, where research projects are already underway.

The São Domingos mining district was active between the 19th and 20th centuries, but "mining there goes back to pre-Roman times", says Álvarez-Valero. In the abandoned or fossil mining areas, the largest sources of soil and surface water contamination come from the leaching (washing) of metals and metalloids from waste rich in sulfur (such as pyrite).

SINC Team | alfa
Further information:
http://www.plataformasinc.es

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Scientists on the road to discovering impact of urban road dust
18.01.2018 | University of Alberta

nachricht Gran Chaco: Biodiversity at High Risk
17.01.2018 | Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Optical Nanoscope Allows Imaging of Quantum Dots

Physicists have developed a technique based on optical microscopy that can be used to create images of atoms on the nanoscale. In particular, the new method allows the imaging of quantum dots in a semiconductor chip. Together with colleagues from the University of Bochum, scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute reported the findings in the journal Nature Photonics.

Microscopes allow us to see structures that are otherwise invisible to the human eye. However, conventional optical microscopes cannot be used to image...

Im Focus: Artificial agent designs quantum experiments

On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.

We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Physicists have learned to change the wavelength of Tamm plasmons

24.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

When the eyes move, the eardrums move, too

24.01.2018 | Health and Medicine

Deaf children learn words faster than hearing children

24.01.2018 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>