British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

The biogeochemistry of selenium in the US western phosphate resource area : sources, pathways, receptors and controls Munkers, Jon; Bond, Melanie; Brackney, Kevin; Moller, Gregory


Selenium, a sulfur analogue, is often mobilized in mining impacted areas. Oxidation of the reduced forms of this metalloid can allow release into the local ecosystem with the potential for toxic impact. A large body of work in the scientific literature has documented the food chain effects of mobilized Se in certain types of aquatic environments, with endpoints that include reproductive failure in biological communities. This work explores the biogeochemical cycling and controls of Se in mining effected environments focusing on the Western US Phosphate Resource Area in Idaho. Unique in its terrestrial environment, this large-scale active and historical mining area is currently the focus of a study of selenium reaction pathways, environmental impacts and natural or accelerated controls. We have found chemical and microbial pathways are active in the Se cycle in both areas, however the regio-specific geochemistry, temperature, hydrograph and engineering operations dominate the local release and control dynamics. This work examines natural and "green" engineered Se control approaches explored in field and laboratory trials associated with this mining area.

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