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ArticleName Assessment of ecological impact of mineral mining and processing industry in the Chelyabinsk Region
DOI 10.17580/gzh.2015.05.20
ArticleAuthor Ulrikh D. V., Timofeeva S. S., Denisov S. E.

Author 1:
Name & Surname: Ulrikh D. V.
Company: South Ural State University (Chelyabinsk, Russia)
Work Position: Associate Professor, Water Supply and Removal Department
Scientific Degree: Candidate of Engineering Sciences

Author 2:
Name & Surname: Timofeeva S. S.
Company: Irkutsk National Research Technical University (Irkutsk, Russia)
Work Position: Head of Industrial Ecology and Safe Life Activity Department
Scientific Degree: Doctor of Engineering Sciences, Professor

Author 3:
Name & Surname: Denisov S. E.
Company: South Ural State University (Chelyabinsk, Russia)
Work Position: Head of Water Supply and Removal Department
Scientific Degree: Doctor of Engineering Sciences, Professor


Under discussion are mineral mining and processing plants that are hazardous for the environment and population health in the Chelyabinsk Region. The region holds more than three hundred deposits of a variety of minerals, namely, iron and copper ore, polymetals, nickel, bauxite, primary gold deposits and placers, rare-earth, titanium, chrome iron ore, coal, magnesite, vermiculite, kaolin, ornamental and precious stones, piezo-quartz, refractory materials. Sulfide ore deposits, apart from copper and zinc, contain gold, silver, rare metals (tellurium, germanium, cadmium, selenium, indium and gallium), as well as sulfur and barium sulfates. Three areas exposed to the heaviest ecological load in the Region are identified. A detail discussion involves the past ecological damage (PED) inflicted on Karabash industrial hub, the area of which accommodates tailings ponds of finely dispersed aluminum silicates and sulfides. The abandoned, nonreclaimed tailings ponds are the source of contamination of air, soil and water. The heavily polluted area makes nearly 2000 ha. Based on the visual inspection and expert estimates, PED structure is determined. The Karabash town air quality is evaluated using the air contamination index with identification of four air quality levels: low, higher, high, and very high. The chemical analysis of water in Ryzhy stream shows that MCL is greatly exceeded in terms of iron, aluminum, manganese, nickel, copper, cadmium and lead. The specific integrated contamination index of water bodies in the Region is determined for 2013 and 2014. The damage due to ground pollution is evaluated. The PED-based ranking of local sites is carried out with the environmental impact assessment. The ecological situation on mining sites under fierce technogenesis is assessed as “critical” and “disastrous.” The after-effect of pollution on the health of the local communities is analyzed, and the revealed incidence rate is from 150 to 300%. The article offers rehabilitation actions for ecologically loaded areas.

keywords Mineral mining and processing industry, pollution, atmospheric air, water bodies, soil, past ecological damage, air contamination index, chemical substances

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