Ettringite formation in lime-remediated mine tailings: I. Thermodynamic modeling

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 88, No. 995, 1995

A.M.O. Mohamed, Geotechnical Research Centre, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec J.F. Boily, Earth and Planetary Sciences, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec M. Hossein and F.P. Hassani, Mining and Metallurgical Engineering, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec

The optimal geochemical parameters required to form ettrin-gite in a lime-remediated site have been investigated with the use of thermodynamic modelling. The speciation of sulphate and 10 metals analyzed in samples of a mine tailing from northern Quebec was calculated with a computer model. The model also includes calcium, which would result from the addition of lime to the system. Two speciation calculations were done. The first one is a hypothetical speciation before the onset of precipitation and was used to devise the stability fields of minerals susceptible of forming in high pHs. The stability fields were determined by building activity ratio diagrams with sulphate, aluminum and calcium species concentrations for pHs ranging from 4 to 14. The investigation was carried out for a 25°C solution with an ionic strength less than 0.12. Thermodynamics predict that an optimal stability field for ettringite in the mine tailing samples containing 1&3 mol/L ofSO42, 102 mol/L of Al(OH)4 requires at least 102 mol/L of Ca*2 and a pH larger than 11.6. The sulphate contents of the mine tailing samples, however, limit the precipitation of ettringite and monosulphate could be an end-precipitate. The second speciation is in equilibrium with precipitates and provides information on the speciation of the residual metals. If ettringite could be precipitated as a stable form, it could serve as a sorptive agent for residual metals, and, due to its binding properties, consolidate tailings.