Resolving of Environmental Problems Caused by the Processing of Copper Ore

1 “N. Poushkarov” Institute of Soil Science, Agrotechnologies and Plant Protection, BG - 1080 Sofia, Bulgaria
2 University of Barcelona, Chair of Soil Science (Plant Biology), Barcelona, Spain
3 Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Institute of Forestry, BG – 1113 Sofia, Bulgaria
4 “Marin Blagiev LTD”, BG – 1000 Sofia, Bulgaria


BANOV, M., J. BECH, P. IVANOV, V. TSOLOVA, M. ZHYIANSKI and M. BLAGIEV, 2014. Resolving of Environmental Problems Caused by the Processing of Copper Ore. Bulg. J. Agric. Sci., 20: 581-589


The constantly increasing need of raw materials for industry and energetic requires to grow the extraction of ores. Various mining resources are employed in different sectors of manufacturing, construction, transport, and human life. However, intensive mining and processing of minerals have negative impact on pedosphere. The present paper deals with effectiveness of technical and biological reclamation of “Elshitsa” tailing pond which was build to store the industrial waste products from copper ore mine, located in the village of Elshitsa, Panagyurishte municipality, Bulgaria. The negative impact of tailing pond on the environmental components is result of toxic characteristics of the tailings. The waste toxicity flows from the high content of sulphur, copper and lead which exceed the amounts assumed as typical of soils. The copper amount is 27 times higher than in natural soils, the lead – 16 and sulphur’s – about 10 times. Besides their direct toxicity in terrestrial and aquatic environment, Cu and Pb are slightly biodegradable and cause long-lasting lethal effect. Restoration of damaged and contaminated sites was carried out in two stages – engineering-technical reclamation and biological reclamation. Combined usage of sludge from Plovdiv Treatment Plant for waste water, encapsulation of tailing surface with a polymer - Soil Cement and appropriate selection of grass species formed a tightly sealed cover. The assessment of reclaimed site showed that the strong anthropogenic pollution of the environment components is quickly prevented by applied effective technological solution for reclamation. There is no surface runoff and there are no pollutants to be controlled after three years of tailing pond’s reclamation. The analysis of plants grown on reclaimed terrain shows that levels of heavy metals in their tissues are within the safe concentrations.

Key words: Copper ore; Tailing pond; Sewage sludge; Reclamation
Abbreviations: IWP – Industrial Waste Products; WRBSR – World Reference Base for Soil Resources; RSG – Reference Soil Group; PTPWW – Plovdiv Treatment Plant for Waste Water; CT1 – Collection Tank 1; CT2 – Collection Tank 2; PC – Precautionary Concentrations; MPC – Maximum Permissible Concentrations; LPC – Limit of Permissible Concentrations; CF – Correction Factor; IC – Intervention Concentrations

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