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Experience of determining regional ecologically safe copper concentrations in soils at a copper mine

Mines greatly affect the environment, in particular, in adjacent areas. An important objective of the modern geoecology is to develop ecological standards of pollutant limits for the environmental objects in the neighborhood of contamination sources. The aim of this study is to determine regional ecologically safe concentrations of total copper in soils in the areas of a copper mining and processing plant in the Caucasus (Urup GOK, Karachay–Cherkessia), such that the overrun of these concentrations leads to malfunction of natural ecosystems. With that end in view, copper pollution was modeled in four types of soils in the closest vicinity of the test mining and processing plant. The scope of the analyses embraced the impact exerted by copper contents of 100, 1000 and 10000 mg/kg on the most sensitive and informative parameters of soils (bacterial number, enzyme strength, plant growth). The ecologically safe concentrations of total copper in soils is determined by the rate of drop in the index of biological integrity of soils, which is reflective of the damage of ecological functions and services of soils. The found regional ecologically safe concentrations of total copper in soils in the area of the copper mining and processing plant are as follows: leached mountain black earth—150 mg/kg; rendzina—120 mg/kg; brown forest weakly undersaturated soil—110 mg/kg; mountain meadow black earth-like soil—100 mg/kg. The proposed ecological standards can be used to evaluate and standardize pollution of natural ecosystems. The application ranges of the standards embrace the whole distribution areas of the listed types of soils, except for the land of agricultural designation and residential areas where the relatively allowable copper concentrations are effective. The use of the ecological standards can promote more efficient territorial management at Urup GOK.

Keywords: copper mining and processing plants, ecological standards, pollution, copper, ecological soil functions, Caucasus.
For citation:

Moshchenko D. I., Kuzina A. A., Kolesnikov S. I., Kazeev K.Sh. Experience of determining regional ecologically safe copper concentrations in soils at a copper mine. MIAB. Mining Inf.Anal. Bull. 2023;(11):102-114.[InRuss]. DOI:10.25018/0236_1493_2023_11_0_102.


The study was supported under Priority 2030 Program for the South Federal University Project on Creation of Laboratory of Ecobiotechnologies for Soil Diagnostics and Health, Project No. SP-12-23-01, by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation, State Contact No. FENW-2023-0008, by the International Soil Health Lab at the South Federal University, Agreement No. 075-15-2022-1122, and by the President of Russia, Grants Nos. MK-2688.2022.1.5 and NSH-449.2022.5.

Issue number: 11
Year: 2023
Page number: 102-114
ISBN: 0236-1493
UDK: 57.044; 631.46
DOI: 10.25018/0236_1493_2023_11_0_102
Article receipt date: 06.05.2022
Date of review receipt: 06.07.2023
Date of the editorial board′s decision on the article′s publishing: 10.10.2023
About authors:

D.I. Moshchenko1, Graduate Student, e-mail:, ORCID ID: 0000-0001-7536-1538,
А.А. Kuzina1, Cand. Sci. (Biol.), Senior Researcher, e-mail:, ORCID ID: 0000-0001-8816-5288,
S.I. Kolesnikov1, Dr. Sci. (Agric.), Professor, Head of Chair, e-mail:, ORCID ID: 0000-0001-5860-8420,
K.Sh. Kazeev1, Dr. Sci. (Geogr.), Professor, е-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:

А.А. Kuzina, e-mail:


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