Treatment of antimony mine drainage: challenges and opportunities with special emphasis on mineral adsorption and sulfate reducing bacteria

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

The present article summarizes antimony mine distribution, antimony mine drainage generation and environmental impacts, and critically analyses the remediation approach with special emphasis on iron oxidizing bacteria and sulfate reducing bacteria. Most recent research focuses on readily available low-cost adsorbents, such as minerals, wastes, and biosorbents. It is found that iron oxides prepared by chemical methods present superior adsorption ability for Sb(III) and Sb(V). However, this process is more costly and iron oxide activity can be inhibited by plenty of sulfate in antimony mine drainage. In the presence of sulfate reducing bacteria, sulfate can be reduced to sulfide and form Sb2S3 precipitates. However, dissolved oxygen and lack of nutrient source in antimony mine drainage inhibit sulfate reducing bacteria activity. Biogenetic iron oxide minerals from iron corrosion by iron-oxidizing bacteria may prove promising for antimony adsorption, while the micro-environment generated from iron corrosion by iron oxidizing bacteria may provide better growth conditions for symbiotic sulfate reducing bacteria. Finally, based on biogenetic iron oxide adsorption and sulfate reducing bacteria followed by precipitation, the paper suggests an alternative treatment for antimony mine drainage that deserves exploration.

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