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Geochemical and bioreactivity assessment of future mining operations at Mutanga Uranium Project, Southern Province, Zambia

Van Aardt, Joanne, Bowell, Robert, Berube, Kelly ORCID:, Jones, Timothy ORCID: and Lusambo, Victor 2018. Geochemical and bioreactivity assessment of future mining operations at Mutanga Uranium Project, Southern Province, Zambia. Presented at: 11th ICARD | IMWA | WISA MWD 2018 Conference – Risk to Opportunity, Pretoria, 10-14 September 2018. Published in: Wolkersdorfer, Ch, Sartz, L, Weber, A, Burgess, J and Tremblay, G eds. Proceedings of the 11th ICARD | IMWA | MWD Conference - “Risk to Opportunity". , vol.2 South Africa: Tshwane University of Technology (TUT), pp. 757-762.

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Current concerns over global warming and fossil fuel impacts have led to an increasing demand for low CO2 producing forms of energy, including nuclear power, resulting in increased uranium exploration activity. However, concern exists for the release of radionuclides and associated metals from such mining and therefore require continuous monitoring and adaptive management. Low grade ore, waste rock and surface samples were collected from the Mutanga Project, a prospective uranium mine in the southern province of Zambia. Currently there are no mining activities but it is proposed that open-pit mining be initiated at two sites along with acid heap leaching and development of waste rock facilities on small seasonal feeder streams running into Lake Kariba. Analytical techniques in accordance with appropriate British and Analytical Standards were used in this study, such as X-ray fluorescence (XRF), X-ray diffraction (XRD) and Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS). Leachate tests were employed to assess the geochemical properties and mobility of target metals, focusing on vanadium, titanium, lead and uranium. e potential bioreactivity of air-borne mineral mine dust was evaluated using a Plasmid Scission Assay (PSA), where the ability of mineral particulate matter to generate Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) and damage plasmid DNA, over a dilution range was assessed.¬ The results from the 22 samples indicated very low levels of target metals were mobilised within the leachates, while the additional dilution influence from Lake Kariba would mitigate any potential impacts. The PSA analysis indicates fine dust particles could be ingested and potentially cause DNA damage, due to the high crystalline silica content within these samples. A noticeable dose effect was observed. In order to mitigate this risk, dust suppression in the mining and process facilities is recommended along with personal dust protection for mine personal involved in extraction process.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Earth and Environmental Sciences
Subjects: Q Science > QE Geology
Publisher: Tshwane University of Technology (TUT)
ISBN: 978-0-620-80650-3
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Last Modified: 23 Nov 2022 10:20

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