Chemosphere ( IF 5.778 ) Pub Date : 2020-08-01 , DOI: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2020.127843 Fabio Perlatti; Eve Pimentel Martins; Daniel Pontes de Oliveira; Francisco Ruiz; Verónica Asensio; Carla Ferreira Rezende; Xosé Luis Otero; Tiago Osório Ferreira
This study aimed to estimate the impact of an abandoned copper (Cu) mine on ecosystem environmental quality, using integrated ecological and biogeochemical analyses. Through a controlled experiment, the amount of Cu released by waste rocks, Cu adsorbed in soils, Cu geochemical behaviour and its leached amount were measured. Furthermore, to investigate the impacts of mine drainage on the adjacent ecosystem, samples of sediments, water and aquatic macroinvertebrates were analysed. We found that waste rocks still have high Cu concentration even after 30 years under weathering, ranging from 7782 to 8717 mg kg−1, associated mainly with carbonates, amorphous oxides and sulphides. It was estimated that 7.2 tonnes of Cu were released by waste rocks into the environment over last 30 years. The concentration of Cu observed in Ubari stream water was (<dl to 90 μg L−1), in sediments (28.0–1185 mg kg−1) and in macroinvertebrates (1.3–28.9 mg kg−1 d/w). The ecological indexes showed that near mine discharge a significance decrease in the density of aquatic macroinvertebrates and a significance increase of Cu in biological tissues occurs, causing disturbances in biodiversity. The results showed that, even after long periods, the waste rocks from abandoned mines still contain high levels of metal, that are gradually released into the environment through weathering and erosion, representing a potential source of environmental pollution and a clear threat to the environmental quality of adjacent ecosystems.