Electro-remediation of copper mine tailings. Comparing copper removal efficiencies for two tailings of different age

Henrik K. Hansen, Victor Lamas, Claudia Gutierrez, Patricio Nunez, Adrian Rojo, Claudio Cameselle, Lisbeth M. Ottosen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


This work compares and evaluates the copper removal efficiency when applying electric fields to two mine tailings originating from the same mine but of different age. Eight experiments were carried out - four on tailings deposited more than 20 years ago (old tailings) and four on tailings deposited less than 2 years ago (new tailings). Parameters analyzed were the applied voltage drop, acid concentration during pretreatment, and the use of either passive or ion exchange membranes in the experimental setup. The comparison of the results confirms that there are differences in the electroremediation between the two tailings, even if the pH is similar and a mineralogical analysis showed similarities between the samples with respect to composition. It was found that an electroremediation is more favorable on the old tailings. The results showed that the best experimental conditions for both tailings is a pretreatment with H(2)SO(4)1 M followed by applying 40 V for 7 days, using ion exchange membranes. In this case 16.7% of copper was removed from the anode section for the old tailings, whereas only 11.2% was removed from the new tailings. The current efficiencies with respect to copper for the old and new tailings were 1.7% and 1.6%, respectively. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMinerals Engineering
Pages (from-to)1-8
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Electric field
  • Ion exchange membranes
  • Mine tailing aging
  • Soil remediation


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