Assessment of metallic trace elements contamination in a mining area of the processing of Djebel Onk phosphate ore (Algeria)

ISSN 2307-2091 (Print) 

ISSN 2500-2414 (Online)


B. Boumaza, T. V. Chekushina / News of the Ural State Mining University. 2021. Issue 1(61), pp. 7-16


Research relevance. Phosphate mining activities are one of the main sources of contamination by heavy metals since they harmfully affect the soil and lead to the degradation of the ecosphere.
Research aim. This study aims at characterizing and evaluating the metallic contamination of soils in the vicinity of the Djebel Onk mine in the town of Bir El Ater (Wilaya of Tébessa) in eastern Algeria, and particularly focusing on estimating the spatial variability of this contamination and the extent of the contaminated area.
Methodology. The physicochemical characteristic (pH) was determined by pH-meter, whereas AAS was used for the determination of heavy metals (Pb, Cu, Zn, Cd) in the examined soil
Research results. The results reveal that soils that are close to the mine site studied and even those that are far away are heavily contaminated with heavy metals — lead (Pb), zinc (Zn), copper (Cu) and cadmium (Cd); the results also point out to a high variability of concentrations not only between sampling sites but also within the same mine site. The analysed soil pollution index is generally high even for soils sampled downstream more than 30 km from the mine site, whereas it is extremely high on the surface of the tailings slopes, underlining the fact that tailings are considered perennial sources of heavy metal contamination in their current state.
Conclusion. The unhealthy area affected by metal pollution from mining sites in the Djebel Onk is very large as a result of the dispersion, by wind and water transport, of residual pollutants from the mine wastes abandoned on site. Remediation measures must be put into place to immobilize the pollutants and limit their spread to the environment

Keywords: Soil contamination, Algeria, heavy metals, phosphate mine, pollution index.



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