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Heavy metal content of soils at tailings pond after reclamation at Urup Mining and Processing Plant

Mines have an adverse environmental impact, in particular, they pollute the environment with heavy metals. Urup Mining and Processing Plant (GOK) in the Caucasus produces round 46 % of copper ore reserves in the south of Russia. Local tailings feature high concentrations of copper (Cu), zinc (Zn), lead (Pb) and other heavy metals. This study focuses on the assessment of heavy metal content of soils at a tailings pond after reclamation at Urup GOK. Gross heavy metals were assessed using the X-ray fluoroscopy. Pollution was evaluated with the help of the unified contamination index, pollution load index, the Nemerow integrated pollution index, the potential ecological risk and the overall contamination index. The research findings show that gross heavy metals in soils at the test reclaimed tailings pond at Urup GOK are never higher than the background values and the reference allowable concentrations in most test samples. According to the most of calculated indexes, the soil of the reclaimed tailings pond is uncontamined (clean). The comparison of the test indexes of pollution is reflective of different degree of their environmental flexibility.

Keywords: pollution, heavy metals, reclamation, tailings pond, unified contamination index, pollution load index, the Nemerow integrated pollution index, potential ecological risk, overall contamination index.
For citation:

Khrapai E. S., KuzinaA.A., Kolesnikov S. I., Minnikova T. V., Kazeev K. Sh. Heavy metal content of soils at tailings pond after reclamation at Urup Mining and Processing Plant. MIAB. Mining Inf. Anal. Bull. 2024;(4):56-68. [In Russ]. DOI: 10.25018/0236_1493_2024_ 4_0_56.


The study was carried out at the Southern Federal University and was supported by the Russian Science Foundation, Grant No. 23-74-01071,

Issue number: 4
Year: 2024
Page number: 56-68
ISBN: 0236-1493
UDK: 57.044; 631.46
DOI: 10.25018/0236_1493_2024_4_0_56
Article receipt date: 13.01.2024
Date of review receipt: 19.02.2024
Date of the editorial board′s decision on the article′s publishing: 10.03.2024
About authors:

E.S. Khrapai1, Student, Laboratory Assistant, e-mail:, ORCID ID: 0000-0003-3133-7629,
A.A. Kuzina1, Cand. Sci. (Biol.), Senior Researcher, e-mail:, ORCID ID: 0000-0001-8816-5288,
S.I. Kolesnikov1, Dr. Sci. (Agr.), Professor, Head of Chair, e-mail:, ORCID ID: 0000-0001-5860-8420,
T.V. Minnikova1, Cand. Sci. (Biol.), Leading Researcher, e-mail:, ORCID ID: 0000-0002-9453-7137,
K.Sh. Kazeev1, Dr. Sci. (Geogr.), Professor, Director of D.I. Ivanovsky Academy of Biology and Biotechnology, e-mail:, ORCID ID: 0000-0002-0252-6212,
1 D.I. Ivanovsky Academy of Biology and Biotechnology, Southern Federal University, 344090, Rostov-on-Don, Russia.


For contacts:

E.S. Khrapai, e-mail:


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