Monitoring study of the mine pond reclamation of Mina Concepción, Iberian Pyrite Belt (Spain)

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Mining of massive (Cu, Pb and Zn) sulphide bodies in the Iberian Pyrite Belt (SW Spain) has generated a great number of abandoned waste deposits such as mine ponds. These represent large accumulations of reactive minerals and subsequently, emission sources of trace elements and formation of acid drainage. Even if they have been restored, monitoring studies are required to evaluate the corrective effects and how they may change over time. This work presents the results of a monitoring study carried out at Mine Concepción mine pond, based on mineralogical (XRD), geochemical (INAA, X-ray fluorescence, ICP-MS) and geophysical (electrical resistivity tomography) techniques. In it, a series of relevant parameters have been well delimited, such as the infilling thickness and its variation and, the position, geometry and absence of water leakages through the base of the mine pond. Additionally, the existence of an internal, remnant flow of acid waters that tends to come out through the pond dyke has been identified. Chemistry of these waters indicates that oxidation processes affecting the Mina Concepción mine tailings are generating acid drainage waters which could potentially release substantial amounts of trace elements to the river Odiel. Thus, giving that not complete sealing is accomplished by the restoration capping and rainfall water infiltrates into the pond materials, at least the sealing of the dyke through which leakages occur should be revised.