The effects of galvanic interactions with pyrite on the generation of acid and metalliferous drainage

Gujie Qian, Rong Fan, Michael Short, Russell Schumann, Jun Li, Roger Smart, Andrea Gerson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Although the acid generating properties of pyrite (FeS 2 ) have been studied extensively, the impact of galvanic interaction on pyrite oxidation, and the implications for acid and metalliferous drainage, remain largely unexplored. The relative galvanic effects on pyrite dissolution were found to be consistent with relative sulfide mineral surface area ratios with sphalerite (ZnS) having greater negative impact in batch leach tests (sulfide minerals only, controlled pH) and galena (PbS) having greater negative impact in kinetic leach column tests (KLCs, uncontrolled pH, >85 wt% silicate minerals). In contrast the presence of pyrite resulted consistently in greater increase in galena than sphalerite leaching suggesting that increased anodic leaching is dependent on the difference in anodic and cathodic sulfide mineral rest potentials. Acidity increases occurred after 44, 20, and 12 weeks in the pyrite-galena, pyrite-sphalerite, and the pyrite containing KLCs. Thereafter acid generation rates were similar with the Eh consistently above the rest potential of pyrite (660 mV, SHE). This suggests that treatment of waste rocks or tailings, to establish and maintain low Eh conditions, may help to sustain protective galvanic interactions and that monitoring of Eh of leachates is potentially a useful indicator for predicting changes in acid generation behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5349-5357
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018


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