In this study, the selected streams within the Blesbokspruit located in South Africa were characterised in this study. Because of prolonged mining activities coupled with ineffective management practices, several mine tailing (MT) dumps are widely distributed in this area. Metals and metalloid contamination from these tailing facilities have been reported to be major contributors to environmental hazards such as acid mine drainage (AMD). With increased agricultural activities in this area, an assessment of the general quality of water being utilised for irrigation purposes and feeding of farm animals becomes inevitable. A procedural method was implemented in a bid to identify relations between tailing and stream water contamination. Representative gold tailing sediments and water samples were collected, respectively. With the aid of X-ray fluorescence (XRF) and X-ray diffraction (XRD), the mineralogical characterisation of the tailing sediments was successfully carried out, while acid digestion using inductively coupled plasma-optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES) was utilised in the determination of trace metal contents. Samples of different water sources were also characterised. There was a clear description of the link between tailings, water contamination and possible implications to animals and humans in the long run.
Part of the book: Trace Metals in the Environment