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Physico-chemical characteristics and heavy metal concentrations of copper mine wastes in Zambia: implications for pollution risk and restoration

Chileshe, Mutale N. and Syampungani, Stephen and Sandell Festin, Emma and Tigabu, Mulualem and Daneshvar, Abolfazl and Oden, Per Christer (2020). Physico-chemical characteristics and heavy metal concentrations of copper mine wastes in Zambia: implications for pollution risk and restoration. Journal of Forestry Research. 31 , 1283-1293
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Abstract

Soil characterization is a vital activity to develop appropriate and effective restoration protocols for mine wastelands while insights into the total content of heavy metals in the soil is an important step in estimating the hazards that the metals may pose to the vital roles of soil in the ecosystem. This study addressed the following research questions: (1) To what extent do the physico-chemical characteristics vary between mine waste sediments and the nearby forest soil? (2) Are the concentrations of heavy metals high enough to be considered as toxic? and (3) Are heavy metals present in mine waste sediments potential sources of pollution? We hypothesized that the physico-chemical characteristics of mine waste sediments are less favorably for plant establishment and growth while the concentrations of heavy metals are very high, thus restricting the success of revegetation of mine waste lands. Mine waste sediments were sampled following a diagonal transect across tailings dams, overburden dump sites and the local forest soil from the top layer (0-20 cm) using a closed auger. Samples were analyzed for arsenic, barium, lead, cadmium, cobalt, copper, chromium, nickel, vanadium, and zinc as well as for soil physico-chemical properties. The mine waste sediments were dominated by silt whilst the forest soil by sand particles, with significantly high bulk density in the former. Both the forest soil and overburden sediments were acidic than the alkaline tailings dam sediment. Total organic carbon and nitrogen contents were significantly low in mine wasteland substrates but the concentration of Ca and Mg were significantly higher in tailings dam substrate than the forest soil. The concentrations of available P, K and Na were similar across sites. The mean concentrations of heavy metals were significantly (p < 0.01) higher in mine waste sediments than the forest soil; except for cadmium (p = 0.213). The order of contamination by heavy metals on the tailings was Cu > Co > Ba > Ni > As > Zn > Pb > Cr > V > Cd, and that on the overburdens was Cu > Co > Ba > Ni > Zn > Cr > Pb > V > As > Cd. The pollution load index (PLI) was nearly twice higher for the tailings dam (8.97) than the overburden (5.84). The findings show that the copper mine wastes (the tailings dams and overburden waste rock sites) are highly contaminated by heavy metals; which, in turn, might pose serious hazards to human health and agricultural productivity. In addition, poor macro-nutrient availability, substrate compaction and soil acidity (particularly on overburden sites) coupled with toxic level of heavy metals would be the main challenges for successful phytostabilization of copper mine wastelands.

Authors/Creators:Chileshe, Mutale N. and Syampungani, Stephen and Sandell Festin, Emma and Tigabu, Mulualem and Daneshvar, Abolfazl and Oden, Per Christer
Title:Physico-chemical characteristics and heavy metal concentrations of copper mine wastes in Zambia: implications for pollution risk and restoration
Year of publishing :2020
Volume:31
Page range:1283-1293
Number of Pages:11
Publisher:Springer Nature
ISSN:1007-662X
Language:English
Publication Type:Journal article
Article category:Scientific peer reviewed
Version:Published version
Copyright:Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0
Full Text Status:Public
Subjects:(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 4 Agricultural Sciences > 401 Agricultural, Forestry and Fisheries > Forest Science
Keywords:Contamination factors, Overburden material, Phytostabilization, Pollution load index, Tailings dam
URN:NBN:urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-p-106868
Permanent URL:
http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-p-106868
Additional ID:
Type of IDID
DOI10.1007/s11676-019-00921-0
Web of Science (WoS)000542370400018
ID Code:17317
Faculty:S - Faculty of Forest Sciences
Department:(S) > Southern Swedish Forest Research Centre
Deposited By: SLUpub Connector
Deposited On:25 Aug 2020 11:34
Metadata Last Modified:25 Aug 2020 11:34

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