Use of waste pyrite from mineral processing plants in soil remediation

Aydın, Gülşen
Pyrite (FeS2) is commonly present in complex sulphide ores in significant amounts. After the enrichment of such ores by flotation, pyrite is either produced as a separate concentrate and sold to acid manufactures or removed and disposed off as tailing. Due to lack of demand from manufacturers, most of pyrites is usually disposed off as tailing. Therefore, pyrite is usually a waste from complex sulphide ores. Yet, it may be a remediation additive for calcareous soils and calcareous- alkali soils deficient in Fe and other micronutrients such as Cu, Zn and Mn. Waste pyrite may be also an alternative amendment to gypsum because of the production of sulphuric acid which is effectively used in the reclamation of calcareous alkali soils. The effectiveness of adding waste pyrite and sulphuric acid produced from waste pyrite to calcareous-alkali soil (Sarayköy-Ankara) and calcareous soil (Gaziantep) was studied under laboratory conditions. Pure gypsum was also used as an amendment for the comparison of the effectiveness of waste pyrite in the reclamation of alkali soils. Gypsum, powder waste pyrite and sulphuric acid were applied to the soil with reference to the gypsum requirement (GR) of the soils. Greenhouse pot tests were carried out with wheat as test plant to determine the effect of waste pyrite treatment on the plant yield (wheat) and on the amount of micronutrient (Fe, Cu, Zn, Mn) essential for plant growth. Hazard potential of pyritic tailings in terms of heavy metal contamination was also taken into account. The results showed that the soil pH and exchangeable sodium percentage (ESP), indicators of alkalization, decreased upon pyrite addition to calcareous- alkali soils of Sarayköy-Ankara. It was also found that pyritic tailings were effective in the increasing level of essential micronutrients (Fe, Cu, Zn and Mn) for plant growth in both soils. This was ascertained by the dry matter yield of the plants in the green house pot tests. Heavy metal toxicity caused by pyrite which is a rightful concern remained well below the legal limits in the soils. Thus, it was concluded that the application of pyritic tailings promoted rapid amelioration of calcareous-alkali soil (Sarayköy-Ankara) and calcareous soil (Gaziantep) with no deleterious heavy metal contamination.


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Citation Formats
G. Aydın, “Use of waste pyrite from mineral processing plants in soil remediation,” Ph.D. - Doctoral Program, Middle East Technical University, 2011.