McClure, Roberta 1981- (2012-12). Mineralogy and Geochemistry of Pb, Zn and Ag Mine Tailings Originating From Carbonate-Rich Deposits. Master's Thesis.
Mining for silver, lead, zinc, and copper in Zimapan, Hidalgo State, Mexico has been ongoing since 1576. Unsecured tailings heaps and associated acid mine drainage have presented problems related to soil quality, water quality, and dust emission control in the Zimapan area. Objectives of the study of the mine tailings are (1) to determine mineralogy of the tailings in order to identify acid-producing minerals and heavy metals at risk for release in acidic conditions, and (2) to quantify carbonate minerals and (3) to determine heavy metal content that may be released by the products of sulfide mineral weathering. Representative mine tailings have been sampled from a site located north of Zimapan. Mineralogical characterization has been conducted with X-ray diffraction (XRD), and scanning and transmission electron microscopes (SEM and TEM). Total carbonates have been determined the Chittick procedure. X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) has been utilized to determine total elemental composition. XRD and SEM analyses have confirmed the presence of pyrite and arsenopyrite indicating a potential for acid mine drainage. Calcite has been confirmed to have a significant presence in the unweathered samples by XRD and the Chittick procedure, with some samples containing an average of 19.4% calcite. NAA and XRF have revealed significant concentrations of toxic elements such as As, Pb and Zn in both the oxidized and unoxidized samples.