Selective recovery of Cu, Zn, and Ni from acid mine drainage

Selective recovery of Cu, Zn, and Ni from acid mine drainage
Sang-Min ParkJong-Chan YooSang-Woo Ji양중석Kitae Baek
Cu/Zn; Cu/Ni; pH adjustment; Acid mine drainage; Selective recovery; Selective precipitation; MINTEQ simulation
Issue Date
Environmental geochemistry and health
VOL 35, NO 6, 735-743
In Korea, the heavy metal pollution from about 1,000 abandoned mines has been a serious environmental issue. Especially, the surface waters, groundwaters, and soils around mines have been contaminated by heavy metals originating from acid mine drainage (AMD) and mine tailings. So far, AMD was considered as a waste stream to be treated to prevent environmental pollutions; however, the stream contains mainly Fe and Al and valuable metals such as Ni, Zn, and Cu. In this study, Visual MINTEQ simulation was carried out to investigate the speciation of heavy metals as functions of pH and neutralizing agents. Based on the simulation, selective pH values were determined to form hydroxide or carbonate precipitates of Cu, Zn, and Ni. Experiments based on the simulation results show that the recovery yield of Zn and Cu were 91 and 94 %, respectively, in a binary mixture of Cu and Zn, while 95 % of Cu and 94 % of Ni were recovered in a binary mixture of Cu and Ni. However, the recovery yield and purity of Zn and Ni were very low because of similar characteristics of Zn and Ni. Therefore, the mixture of Cu and Zn or Cu and Ni could be recovered by selective precipitation via pH adjustment; however, it is impossible to recover selectively Zn and Ni in the mixture of them.
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