Suspended electrodialytic extraction of toxic elements for detoxification of three different mine tailings

Pernille Erland Jensen, Lisbeth M. Ottosen, H.K. Hansen, Sandra Bollwerk, Louise Josefine Belmonte, Gunvor Marie Kirkelund

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Environmental effects of mining activities partly origin from the production of tailings, and the exposure of these to ambient physical and chemical conditions. Removal of toxic elements from tailings prior to deposition could improve environmental performance and reduce risks. Experimental results have shown that electrokinetic treatment can remove Cd, Cu, Pb, and Zn from tailings soils; As from tailings; and Cu from tailings. Still, however, a major concern is the long treatment-time required for the element-transport through the tailings matrix. Therefore several enhancement methods have been investigated including pre-treatment of the tailings with acid; insertion of bipolar electrodes; and implementation of pulsed or sinusoidal electric fields. In line with these efforts, we investigated the efficiency when extracting toxic elements from a suspension of tailings, rather than from a solid matrix, which could well be implemented as a final treatment step prior to deposition of tailings. Six electrodialytic experiments in laboratory scale with three different mine tailings (Codelco, Zinkgruvan, and Nalunaq) show that it is possible to extract residual Cu from the all the three suspended mine tailings, although with some difference between the tailings. From the Zinkgruvan sediment, which had the lowest Cu removal, Pb could also be extracted, while Cd and Zn were less extractable.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Sustainable Development and Planning
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)119-127
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventWaste Management 2016: 8th International Conference on Waste Management and the Environment - Valencia, Spain
Duration: 7 Jun 20169 Jun 2016
Conference number: 8


ConferenceWaste Management 2016


  • Decontamination
  • Detoxification
  • Electrodialysis
  • Heavy metals
  • Mine tailings
  • Remediation
  • Resource recovery

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