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DOI: https://doi.org/10.4491/eer.2019.046
Tunisian phosphogypsum tailings: Assessment of leaching behavior for an integrated management approach
Raja Zmemla1, Ali Sdiri2, Ikram Naifar1, Mounir Benjdidia3, and Boubaker Elleuch1
1Laboratory of Environmental Engineering and Ecotechnology, National Engineering School, University of Sfax, P. Box 1173-3038 Sfax, Tunisia
2Department of Georesources and Environment, National Engineering School, University of Sfax, P. Box 1173-3038 Sfax, Tunisia
3Department of Civil Engineering, National Engineering School, University of Sfax, P. Box 1173-3038 Sfax, Tunisia
Corresponding Author: Ali Sdiri ,Tel: +216-97-856-716, Fax: +216-74-275-595, Email: ali.sdiri@enis.rnu.tn
Received: February 7, 2019;  Accepted: May 16, 2019.
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ABSTRACT
This study has been carried out to evaluate the leaching behavior of Tunisian phosphogypsum (PG) tailings in Skhira city (southern Tunisia). Two PG samples, including old and freshly deposited samples, were characterized in terms of physical, geotechnical, mechanical, chemical and mineralogical properties. Special attention was paid to their leaching behavior when subjected to standard leaching tests. Our results indicated that both samples are mainly composed of more than 31.85% CaO and 31.4% SO3, indicating the predominance of gypsum. This was further confirmed by XRD patterns that revealed the presence of characteristic reflections of gypsum, brushite, quartz and Maladrite. Compressive strength after 90 d exceeded 769 kPa, but still lower than that of natural sand (1,800 kPa). Leaching test was proposed as an appropriate method to determine the released contaminants from PG. The obtained results showed that Fluorine and Phosphorus are the most released elements from PG with 40 and 30%, respectively. The released Se, Cd, and Zn were the only trace elements that exceeded the threshold limits. It seemed that leached element concentrations were independent aging or particle size of the PG. Based on the assessment of leaching behavior, an integrated management approach of the PG deposits was proposed.
Keywords: Characterization | Geotechnical properties | Heavy metals | Leaching | Mechanical behavior | Phosphogypsum
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