Removal of heavy metals from CRUD and slime dam material using soil washing and bioremediation

Shumba, Trust (2008-12)

Thesis (MScEng (Process Engineering))--Stellenbosch University, 2008.


A substance called CRUD (Chalk River Unidentified Deposit) was deposited together with gold tailings to the East Paydam tailings dam. Previous research conducted on the material has shown that the crud leaches Mn and Ni at concentrations that are above their acceptable risks limits as well as Zn which leaches at concentration slightly below its acceptable limits thereby posing an environmental risk. The main objective of the research was to test the hypothesis stating that soil washing in series with bioremediation can be used to remove the heavy metals from the material from the East Paydam tailings dam. Various laboratory and pilot scale tests were conducted to investigate critical soil washing and bioremediation parameters and their respective influence on the treatment process. Laboratory work involved column tests and batch tests. These tests were crucial in determining the critical parameters for the pilot scale tests such as the selection of the suitable lixiviant from the four that were investigated. The optimal concentration of the lixiviant was also determined together with the optimum soil: liquid ratio. These parameters were employed in the pilot scale tests. Pilot scale tests involved soil washing in series with bioremediation. The bacterial growth over the bioremediation period was also determined. Precipitation of the heavy metals from leachate was investigated by varying the pH and temperature. Results showed that the soil from the East Paydam can effectively be treated by soil washing in series with bioremediation. Oxalic acid was selected for soil washing of the payable slimes at a concentration of 0.001M. However, material that contains high amount of CRUD (deeper down the slime dam) required the relatively concentrated 0.1M oxalic acid and mechanical agitation. Bioremediation was determined to increase the amount of heavy metals that was leached from the material from the East Paydam slimes dam. Precipitation of the heavy metals at a pH of 12 achieved up to 98% removal of heavy metals from leachate.

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