Contamination of water and soil by the Erdenet copper-molybdenum mine in Mongolia

Batbold Battogtokh, Jae M. Lee, Nam Chil Woo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

As one of the largest copper-molybdenum (Cu-Mo) mines in the world, the Erdenet Mine in Mongolia has been active since 1978 and is expected to continue operations for at least another 30 years. In this study, the potential impacts of mining activities on the soil and water environments have been evaluated. Water samples showed high concentrations of sulfate, calcium, magnesium, Mo, and arsenic, and high pH values in the order of high to low as follows: tailing water > Khangal River > groundwater. Statistical analysis and the δ 2 H and δ 18 O values of water samples indicate that the tailing water directly affects the stream water and indirectly affects groundwater through recharge processes. Soil and stream sediments are highly contaminated with Cu and Mo, which are major elements of ore minerals. Based on the contamination factor (CF), the pollution load index (PLI), and the degree of contamination (C d ), soil appears to be less contaminated than stream sediments. The soil particle size is similar to that of tailing materials, but stream sediments have much coarser particles, implying that the materials have different origins. Contamination levels in stream sediments display a tendency to decrease with distance from the mine, but no such changes are found in soil. Consequently, soil contamination by metals is attributable to wind-blown dusts from the tailing materials, and stream sediment contamination is caused by discharges from uncontained subgrade ore stock materials. Considering the evident impact on the soil and water environment, and the human health risk from the Erdenet Mine, measures to mitigate its environmental impact should be taken immediately including source control, the establishment of a systematic and continuous monitoring system, and a comprehensive risk assessment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3363-3374
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironmental Earth Sciences
Volume71
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Jan 1

Fingerprint

Molybdenum mines
Copper mines
Mongolia
molybdenum
soil pollution
water pollution
Contamination
copper
fluvial deposit
Soils
Tailings
Sediments
Water
tailings
soil
water
sediments
Ores
Groundwater
Calcium Sulfate

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Pollution
  • Geology
  • Earth-Surface Processes

Cite this

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abstract = "As one of the largest copper-molybdenum (Cu-Mo) mines in the world, the Erdenet Mine in Mongolia has been active since 1978 and is expected to continue operations for at least another 30 years. In this study, the potential impacts of mining activities on the soil and water environments have been evaluated. Water samples showed high concentrations of sulfate, calcium, magnesium, Mo, and arsenic, and high pH values in the order of high to low as follows: tailing water > Khangal River > groundwater. Statistical analysis and the δ 2 H and δ 18 O values of water samples indicate that the tailing water directly affects the stream water and indirectly affects groundwater through recharge processes. Soil and stream sediments are highly contaminated with Cu and Mo, which are major elements of ore minerals. Based on the contamination factor (CF), the pollution load index (PLI), and the degree of contamination (C d ), soil appears to be less contaminated than stream sediments. The soil particle size is similar to that of tailing materials, but stream sediments have much coarser particles, implying that the materials have different origins. Contamination levels in stream sediments display a tendency to decrease with distance from the mine, but no such changes are found in soil. Consequently, soil contamination by metals is attributable to wind-blown dusts from the tailing materials, and stream sediment contamination is caused by discharges from uncontained subgrade ore stock materials. Considering the evident impact on the soil and water environment, and the human health risk from the Erdenet Mine, measures to mitigate its environmental impact should be taken immediately including source control, the establishment of a systematic and continuous monitoring system, and a comprehensive risk assessment.",
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Contamination of water and soil by the Erdenet copper-molybdenum mine in Mongolia. / Battogtokh, Batbold; Lee, Jae M.; Woo, Nam Chil.

In: Environmental Earth Sciences, Vol. 71, No. 8, 01.01.2014, p. 3363-3374.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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