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the role of arsenic in the mining industry

the role of arsenic in the mining industry

and natural background levels. The measurement of baseline concentrations...

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A number of human activities have the potential to increase arsenic concentrations in the air, water, and soil on a local scale. The rate of arsenic release from sulfide minerals can be accelerated by mining activities, which expose the minerals to weathering processes during excavation. Arsenic oxide dust is produced during copper and gold smelting, and coal combustion. The direct application of arsenic in the form of pesticides, fungicides or wood preservatives has historically been a major source of arsenic in soils, as arsenic is strongly attracted to soil particles and sediments. Freshwaters and associated ecosystems may be impacted by arsenic dissolution in runoff from contaminated sites. In contrast, it is the natural release of arsenic from geologic materials which has become a threat to drinking water supplies around the world.

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Atmospheric arsenic emissions from copper smelting represent the largest contribution of arsenic from the mining and metals industry by far and have been the focus of pollution control technologies and increasingly stringent regulations. Arsenic can also be leached out of some metal ores by cyanide or acid rock drainage but can be captured and removed from wastewater before it is released into the environment. Arsenic is also present in coal used to generate electricity. When coal is burned, ash is produced which contains most of the naturally occurring arsenic. More than 99% of the ash is collected and is either sent to specially designed ash ponds or disposal sites or recycled into commercial products. Like other industries, mining is strictly regulated and monitored by multiple government departments, agencies, and bureaus at the local, state and federal levels. Regulations, including EPAs Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and Land Disposal Restrictions, have both narrative...

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A number of technologies are being used to capture and remove arsenic from smelting stacks and mine tailings. Air pollution can be controlled effectively using scrubbers, electrostatic precipitators, and baghouses in smelters, which are capable of removing up to 99.7% of the dust and fumes produced during roasting and smelting. Mine tailings and wastewater can be treated for arsenic removal using present day technologies, e.g. the use of ferric reagents to precipitate and absorb dissolved arsenic species into disposable iron compounds. Aqueous arsenic species can also be filtered from waste and tailings with a variety of adsorbents, including iron oxides, clay liners, and activated charcoal filters, which can be disposed of safely. The use of plants, wetlands, and iron nanoparticles to remove arsenic from already contaminated areas is also presently being investigated. 14, 15 The appropriate state of the art and advanced technologies and protocols for monitoring, analyzing, treati...

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The reported world production of arsenic was 46,000 tons in 2014. Demand for arsenic has been declining since the 1970s when inorganic arsenic salts were still used extensively as pesticides. Globally, an estimated 50% of arsenic produced continues to be used to make arsenic based insecticides and herbicides, and another 30% is used to make chromated copper arsenate wood preservatives widely used in marine applications and timber poles. Canada and the U.S. entered into a voluntary agreement in 2003 to ban the use of CCA in residential applications. 1, 24 The electronics industry uses 5% of the arsenic produced to make gallium arsenic semiconductors for use in cell phones, solar panels, and light emitting diodes , and the remaining 15% is used in glassmaking, and to harden metal alloys in ammunition, solders, and bearings.

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Arsenic xide is obtained as a byproduct from dusts and residues produced during the treatment of other metal ores such as gold and copper. The arsenic xide can be purified on site or sold to a refinery. China is the worlds leading producer of arsenic followed by Chile and Morocco . SME Statement of Technical Position 1. Arsenic is a naturally occurring element commonly found as an impurity in metal bearing mineral ores. 2. Arsenic is widely distributed in rocks and soil, in natural waters, and in small amounts in most living things. 3. The direct application of arsenic in the form of pesticides, fungicides or wood preservatives has historically been a major source of arsenic in soils, as arsenic is strongly attracted to soil particles and sediments. 4. The natural release of arsenic from geologic materials has become a threat to drinking water supplies around the world. 5. The rate of arsenic release from sulfide minerals can...

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