DBPapers
DOI: 10.5593/sgem2012/s16.v4005

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF CLOSING MINING ACTIVITIES - A CASE STUDY FROM BALAN, ROMANIA

I. POPESCU, R. NIMIRCIAG (BALINT)
Wednesday 1 August 2012 by Libadmin2012

References: 12th International Multidisciplinary Scientific GeoConference, www.sgem.org, SGEM2012 Conference Proceedings/ ISSN 1314-2704, June 17-23, 2012, Vol. 4, 73 - 80 pp

ABSTRACT

Mining activities have played an important role in the development of human
communities and in the economic growth of societies. However, in many cases, the
exploitation of the resources was carried out in an unsustainable manner and
contamination of the environment or ecological accidents occurred, which lately led to
increased financial efforts for the remediation of contaminated sites. The negative effect
on the environment of the entire technological process of exploration, exploitation and
preparation of ores is continued with the impact of closing the mines. The aim of this
paper is to study the environmental impact of the Bălan mining industry, Romania, on
the receptors, before and after closing. In the Bălan area the mines were closed in 2004,
but the restoration of the mining area began only in 2011, so, meanwhile the population
and the environmental system were affected.
A tailing pond was created in the southern area of the mining perimeter, where all the
residues from the flotation of the ore were pumped. During the period in which the plant
was running, the material in the tailing pond was humid and had the consistency of
mud. Since the mine was closed, though, and no fresh material was added, the water
started to evaporate and, especially during summer, the finest particles from the tailing
pond are easily carried away by wind, ending up in people’s yards and gardens.
For this study, soil samples were collected from the area of the tailing pond, both in
2004, when the mine was closed, and in 2011, when the remediation began. Total heavy
metals in soil were analyzed by X-ray fluorescence spectrometry and pseudo-total
metals were extracted using aqua regia assisted by microwave procedure and the
concentrations were determined by atomic absorption spectrometry. The results showed
that, because of the large period of time between ending of the mining activities and
beginning of the restoration, heavy metals accumulated in the soil around the tailing
pond, due to atmospheric deposition of particles containing trace metals from the pond.

Keywords: trace metals, soil, mining activities, pond drying

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