An exploratory investigation was conducted to assess the present conditions and evaluate the potential impacts of mining activities on soil and water environments at the Shivee-Ovoo coalmine area in Mongolia. Water quality analysis was conducted on samples from mine dewatering boreholes, a tailings dam, and drinking water sources around the mine area. In drinking water supplies of the area, concentrations of Mg, Fe, and F exceeded the levels set in Mongolian and World Health Organization guidelines. Water type and the principal components analysis indicated that water from the mine area and from public water-supply wells originated from the same aquifer. However, the water quality differed in shallow wells and deep wells because of bedrock differences and geochemical weathering processes, rather than climate effects such as from evaporation. The discharged water poses medium to high salinity hazard for use in irrigation, suggesting the need to manage its use in sustainable agriculture or projects to prevent desertification. The particle size distribution and fractal dimension values of soils revealed the dominance of fine to medium sands, which have strong potential for desertification. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy analysis showed that the soils currently pose no apparent threat for acid rock drainage. Consequently, the open-pit mining of the study area shows no obvious environmental impact at present in its vicinity. However, for sustainable development and expansion of the mine, environmental changes should be continuously monitored, with consideration of possible measures for waste recycling.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Acknowledgments This research was supported by the 2011 Techno Peace Corps (TPC) project of the Korea Research Foundation. We deeply appreciate Shivee-Ovoo mine engineers and members of Hydrogeology and Geoecology Department of the Mongolian University of Science and Technology for their cooperation in field work and the anonymous reviewer for constructive comments in detail.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Global and Planetary Change
- Environmental Chemistry
- Water Science and Technology
- Soil Science
- Earth-Surface Processes