Mercury pollution in two gold mining areas of the Brazilian Amazon

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Автор(ы):Filho S.R., Maddock J.E.L.
Издание:Journal of Geochemical Exploration, 1997 г., 10 стр.
Mercury pollution in two gold mining areas of the Brazilian Amazon

Gold has been exploited intensively in the Brazilian Amazon during the past fifteen years using garimpo methods (small-scale gold mining). In this study, two gold mining areas were investigated, the municipalities of Pocone and Alta Floresta located in the state of Mato Grosso, Central Brazil. The elemental mercury (Hg) used in amalgamating the gold, the stage of the ore dressing process, has caused abnormal Hg concentrations in waterways. This has occurred principally in the Amazon region, where most of the ore prospected is alluvial. Background levels of metals were determined by analyzing sediments and soils located upstream of the anthropogenic inputs and unaffected by mining activities. The study aimed to evaluate the pollution level in sediments and soils, taking into account drainage waters directly affected by gold mining. 'Geoaccumulation indexes' (Igeo) of Hg in sediments from both study areas were used to assesses the pollution level in the aquatic environment. The geoaccumulation indexes of Hg in sediments of the Bento Gomes River in Pocone indicate a relatively high degree of pollution at some sites, even reaching class 4 (1.85 mg/kg). However, when the river reaches the Pantanal swamp, Hg concentrations drop considerably to 0.30 mg/kg. This drop seems to be due to accumulation of metals in the sediments of a lake (sampling site PG-24), which retains most of the sediments transported by the Bento Gomes River. Accumulation of metals in the lake also occurred for Cu, Pb, Zn, Fe and Mn. In the region of Alta Floresta, total Hg concentrations in sediments of the Teles Pires River were studied in the grain size fractions < 74 /urn and > 74 /xm. Hg concentrations in bottom sediments of this river were higher than those found in the Pocone region, with increases of 1.5 to 30 times the background, and thus reaching an Igeo up to class 5.

ТематикаПолезные ископаемые
МеткиAmazon, Brazil, Gold, Gold mining, Mercury pollution, Riverine sediments, Бразилия, Золото, Прибрежные осадки, р. Амазонка, Ртутное загрязнение
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