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Flow Analysis of the Mercury Associated with Nonferrous Ore Concentrates: Implications on Mercury Emissions and Recovery in China

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journal contribution
posted on 18.01.2016, 00:00 by Qingru Wu, Shuxiao Wang, Lei Zhang, Mulin Hui, Fengyang Wang, Jiming Hao
This study investigated the flow of mercury (Hg) associated with zinc (Zn), lead (Pb), and copper (Cu) concentrates and provided new insights on the Hg emissions and recovery in both metals-production and wastes-disposal processes in China. Total Hg input from concentrates consumed in China reached 1005.4 t, of which 31.7% was dumped as discarded slags and 2.3% was stabilized (permanent storage). Approximately 202.1 t of Hg was directly emitted to air, water, and soil. More specifically, metals production processes emitted 100.4 t Hg to air. Wastes disposal processes contributed to an additional 47.8 t of atmospheric Hg emissions (which were ignored in most emission inventories) and 32.7 and 21.3 t of Hg to water and soil, respectively. At the same time, out of the 62.6 t of recovered Hg, 95.2% was reclaimed from acid slags. Interim storage of 398.9 t of Hg also highlights the significance of acid slags as potential Hg recovery sources due to the global ban on primary Hg production. The uncertainty ranges (confidence interval: 10%–90%) for Hg emissions to air, water, and soil and for Hg recovery were (−75%, 89%), (−96%, + 111%), (−120%, + 149%), and (−78%, 92%), respectively.