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The Sequestration of Heavy Metals Contaminating the Wonderfonteinspruit Catchment Area using Natural Zeolite

Authors: P.P. Diale, S.S.L. Mkhize, E. Muzenda, J. Zimba


For more than 120 years, gold mining formed the backbone the South Africa-s economy. The consequence of mine closure was observed in large-scale land degradation and widespread pollution of surface water and groundwater. This paper investigates the feasibility of using natural zeolite in removing heavy metals contaminating the Wonderfonteinspruit Catchment Area (WCA), a water stream with high levels of heavy metals and radionuclide pollution. Batch experiments were conducted to study the adsorption behavior of natural zeolite with respect to Fe2+, Mn2+, Ni2+, and Zn2+. The data was analysed using the Langmuir and Freudlich isotherms. Langmuir was found to correlate the adsorption of Fe2+, Mn2+, Ni2+, and Zn2+ better, with the adsorption capacity of 11.9 mg/g, 1.2 mg/g, 1.3 mg/g, and 14.7 mg/g, respectively. Two kinetic models namely, pseudo-first order and pseudo second order were also tested to fit the data. Pseudo-second order equation was found to be the best fit for the adsorption of heavy metals by natural zeolite. Zeolite functionalization with humic acid increased its uptake ability.

Keywords: gold-mining, natural zeolites, water pollution, WestRand.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI):

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