The impact of gold exploitation on the aquatic environment has been evaluated by monitoring the waters in the area downstream from the tailings basin. Mining at Furtei (Sardinia) started in 1997 involving open cut over 2 km2. Though the ore processing via cyanidation includes solution recycling and cyanide recovery, extreme CN, Hg and Cu dissolved contents occur at the tailings impoundment, but they do not seem to have affected the chemical composition of the water over the past three years, compared to the period before mine operations started. A leachate rich in CN, Hg and Ag was observed downstream from the impoundment after the solution level in it increased significantly. Afterwards, the contaminated waters were pumped back to the tailings basin in order to contain the dispersion of toxic components. With periodic monitoring it was possible to pinpoint the contaminant plume and prevent the dispersion of contaminants.
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