Geochemistry, Mineralogy and Microbiology of Molybdenum in Mining-Affected Environments
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Molybdenum is an essential element for life, with growing production due to a constantly expanding variety of industrial applications. The potentially harmful effects of Mo on the environment, and on human and ecosystem health, require knowledge of Mo behavior in mining-affected environments. Mo is usually present in trace amounts in ore deposits, but mining exploitation can lead to wastes with very high Mo concentrations (up to 4000 mg/kg Mo for tailings), as well as soil, sediments and water contamination in surrounding areas. In mine wastes, molybdenum is liberated from sulfide mineral oxidation and can be sorbed onto secondary Fe(III)-minerals surfaces (jarosite, schwertmannite, ferrihydrite) at moderately acidic waters, or taken up in secondary minerals such as powellite and wulfenite at neutral to alkaline pH. To date, no Mo-metabolising bacteria have been isolated from mine wastes. However, laboratory and in-situ experiments in other types of contaminated land have suggested that several Mo-reducing and -oxidising bacteria may be involved in the cycling of Mo in and from mine wastes, with good potential for bioremediation. Overall, a general lack of data is highlighted, emphasizing the need for further research on the contamination, geochemistry, bio-availability and microbial cycling of Mo in mining-affected environments to improve environmental management and remediation actions.
Francesca Frascoli was supported by an Erasmus+ traineeship studentship EQF level 7.
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Vol. 8 (2), article 42