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Mining and Arsenic

Arsenic occurs in various mineral forms, as arsenides in sulphide minerals and as arsenates. The most common mineral is arsenopyrite (FeAsS), which is also found in arsenolite (As2O3), olivenite (Cu2OHAsO4), mimetite (Pb5Cl(AsO4)3 and cobaltite (CoAsS).

In the weathering of sulphides, arsenic can be oxidised to arsenite and arsenate. Arsenic oxide is also formed as a by-product of copper, lead and nickel smelting.

The toxicology of arsenic and its compounds has attracted increasing attention and a particular concern involves the possible influence of the low-level exposures to various species of arsenic in the general population and in occupationally exposed groups.

Sources of Arsenic

Roaster off-gases constitute the major source of arsenic emissions from mining operations which roast sulphide concentrates containing arsenopyrite. Other contaminants such as antimony and sulphur dioxide may also be present in the air emissions. Other mines may produce tailing with high residual arsenic concentrations due to the presence of arsenopyrite in the ore, overburden and soil.

Arsenic in Water

Surface waters and groundwater in areas receiving fallout from roaster off-gas emissions or passing through soils with geologically high concentrations of arsenic can become contaminated. Drinking water sources which tap these contaminated surface or groundwaters may also be contaminated. Elevated concentrations of arsenic can be found in surface waters affected directly by mine area runoff and/or treated or untreated tailing discharges.

Arsenic in Soil and Food

Elevated concentrations of arsenic can be found in the soil and plant food species in areas receiving fallout from roaster off-gases or having naturally high geological sources of arsenic. People consuming seafood are exposed to organic arsenic species and this has to be differentiated from mine arsenic sources by examining individual arsenic species.

Occupational Exposure

Operatives who work in gold roasting plants may be exposed to high concentrations of arsenic in dust-laden air surrounding roasting furnaces or emission control systems, e.g., fabric filter baghouses and transmission points.

Technical Services

Arsenic analyses of multimedia can be carried out on effluents, water, plants, fish, soils, animals, aquatic sediments, and human scalp hair, urine, and blood.

EnviroGulf Consulting subcontracts international testing authority-approved laboratories to conduct arsenic analyses:

Consulting Services

EnviroGulf Consulting offers the following services to clients:


Relevant Experience

The Principal of EnviroGulf Consulting has carried out numerous metal contamination surveys of natural environments and exposed human populations, for example:

Aquatic biological impact of arsenic present in mining wastes, wastewaters and tailing effluents:




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