Effect of biogenic jarosite on the bio-immobilization of toxic elements from sulfide tailings

Zeinab Piervandi, Ahmad Khodadadi Darban, Seyyed Mohammad Mousavi, Mahmoud Abdollahy, Gholamreza Asadollahfardi, Valerio Funari, Enrico Dinelli, Richard David Webster, Mika Sillanpää

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


The discharge of toxic elements from tailings soils in the aquatic environments occurs chiefly in the presence of indigenous bacteria. The biotic components may interact in the opposite direction, leading to the formation of a passivation layer, which can inhibit the solubility of the elements. In this work, the influence of jarosite on the bio-immobilization of toxic elements was studied by native bacteria. In batch experiments, the bio-immobilization of heavy metals by an inhibitory layer was examined in the different aquatic media using pure cultures of Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans and Acidithiobacillus thiooxidans. A variety of analyses also investigated the mechanisms of metals bio-immobilization. Among different tests, the highest metal solubility yielded 99% Mn, 91% Cr, 95% Fe, and 78% Cu using A. ferrooxidans in 9KFe medium after ten days. After 22 days, these percentages decreased down to 30% Mn and about 20% Cr, Fe, and Cu, likely due to metal immobilization by biogenic jarosite. The formation of jarosite was confirmed by an electron probe micro-analyzer (EPMA), X-ray diffraction (XRD), and scanning electron microscope (SEM). The mechanisms of metal bio-immobilization by biogenic jarosite from tailings soil confirmed three main steps: 1) the dissolution of metal sulfides in the presence of Acidithiobacillus bacteria; 2) the nucleation of jarosite on the surface of sulfide minerals; 3) the co-precipitation of dissolved elements with jarosite during the bio-immobilization process, demonstrated by a structural study for jarosite. Covering the surface of soils by the jarosite provided a stable compound in the acidic environment of mine-waste.

Original languageEnglish
Article number127288
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020


  • Bio-immobilization
  • Heavy metals
  • Jarosite
  • Passivation layer
  • Tailings

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry


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