Heavy metal pollution in soil associated with a large-scale cyanidation gold mining region in southeast of Jilin, China.Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2017 Jan; 24(3):3084-3096.ES
Different gold mining and smelting processes can lead to distinctive heavy metal contamination patterns and results. This work examined heavy metal pollution from a large-scale cyanidation gold mining operation, which is distinguished from artisanal and small-scale amalgamation gold mining, in Jilin Province, China. A total of 20 samples including one background sample were collected from the surface of the mining area and the tailings pond in June 2013. These samples were analyzed for heavy metal concentrations and degree of pollution as well as sources of Cr, Cu, Zn, Pb, Ni, Cd, As, and Hg. The mean concentrations of Pb, Hg, and Cu (819.67, 0.12, and 46.92 mg kg-1, respectively) in soil samples from the gold mine area exceeded local background values. The mean Hg content was less than the first-class standard of the Environmental Quality for Soils, which suggested that the cyanidation method is helpful for reducing Hg pollution. The geochemical accumulation index and enrichment factor results indicated clear signs that enrichment was present for Pb, Cu, and Hg, with the presence of serious Pb pollution and moderate presence to none of Hg and Cu pollution. Multivariate statistical analysis showed that there were three metal sources: (1) Pb, Cd, Cu, and As came from anthropogenic sources; (2) Cr and Zn were naturally occurring; whereas (3) Hg and Ni had a mix of anthropogenic and natural sources. Moreover, the tailings dam plays an important role in intercepting the tailings. Furthermore, the potential ecological risk assessment results showed that the study area poses a potentially strong risk to the ecological health. Furthermore, Pb and Hg (due to high concentration and high toxicity, respectively) are major pollutants on the risk index, and both Pb and Hg pollution should be of great concern at the Haigou gold mines in Jilin, China.