Experimental Modeling of the Interaction between Water
Solutions and Mineral Components of Tailings Left
behind the Concentration of Apatite Nepheline Ore
at the Khibiny Deposit

A. P. Zosin, T. I. Priimak, L. B. Koshkina, and G. V. Kalabin

Institute of Problems of Polar Industrial Ecology, Murmansk oblast, Apatity, Russia

Received December 20, 1997

Abstract—The environmental hazard of mineral waste stored during apatite–nepheline ore concentration is
considered in the context of its geochemical transformation under the action of natural and technological fac-
tors. It was established that minerals are weathered only at the surface of the tailing dump where its slopes are
affected by atmospheric precipitates. The weathered tailings are much less dense; because of this, the newly
formed species become mobile, and toxic elements are released into the atmosphere. The main hazard for the
ecosystem is permanent flow (100–120 million m3/yr) of polluted water from the tailing to the Lake Imandra
basin. The technological runoff through the waste layers does not change its chemical composition at the tailing
dump outlet and does not disturb the mineral phase. Acting as a filter, which absorbs about 98% suspension, the
tailing dump protects the environment.