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High arsenic and boron concentrations in ground waters related to mining activity in the Bigadic borate deposits western Turkey


, : High arsenic and boron concentrations in ground waters related to mining activity in the Bigadic borate deposits western Turkey. Applied Geochemistry 23.8

This study documents the environmental impacts of borate mines in Bigadic district, which are the largest colemanite and ulexite deposits in the world. Borate-bearing formations have affected the concentrations of some contaminants in groundwater. Groundwater quality is directly related to the borate zones in the mines as a result of water-rock interaction processes. Calcium is the dominant cation and waters are Ca-SO4 and HCO3 type in the mine (Tuelue borate mine) from which colemanite is produced. However in the Simav and Acep Borate Mines, ulexite and colemanite minerals are produced and waters from these open pit mines are Na-HCO3 -SO4 types. High SO4 concentrations (reaching 519 mg/L) might be explained by the existence of anhydrite, gypsum and celestite minerals in the borate zone. Groundwater from tuff and borate strata showed relatively low pH values (7-8) compared to surface and mine waters (>8). EC values ranged from 270 to 2850 mu S/cm. Boron and As were the two important contaminants determined in the groundwaters around the Bigadic borate mines. Arsenic is the major pollutant and it ranged from 33 to 911 mu g/L in the groundwater samples. The concentrations of B in the study area ranged from 0.05 to 391 mg/L. The highest B concentrations were detected at the mine areas. The extension of the borate zones in the aquifer systems is the essential factor in the enrichment of B and As, and some major and trace elements in groundwaters are directly related to the leaching of the host rock which are mainly composed of tuffs and limestones. According to drinking water standards, all of the samples exceed the tolerance limit for As. Copper, Mn, Zn and Li values are enriched but do not exceed the drinking water standards. Sulfate, Al and Fe concentrations are above the drinking water standard for the groundwater samples.

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