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Comparison of Acid Production From Pyrite and Jarosite

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  • Four siltite-argillite rock samples were characterised (particle size, chemistry, mineralogy) and subjected to laboratory dissolution testing for 36 to 298 weeks. In two samples sulfur (0.99, 1.69 wt per cent) occurred largely as pyrite, and in the other two samples sulfur (0.96, 1.93 wt per cent) occurred predominately as potassium jarosite. The observed rate of sulfate release from the pyritic samples was one to two orders of magnitude greater than that from samples containing potassium jarosite. Drainage pH values from the pyritic samples were one to two units lower and acidities were ten to 70 times higher than associated values from the potassium jarosite samples. Geochemical modelling supported the hypothesis that pH and concentrations of sulfate and potassium in drainage from the potassium jarosite samples were controlled by the limited solubility of potassium jarosite. This dissolution produced an iron-dominated mineral phase, but iron concentrations in the drainage were well below those predicted by ferrihydrite solubility.

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