Treatment of mining wastewater polluted with cyanide by coagulation processes: A mechanistic study

Maria A. Mamelkina, Miguel Herraiz-Carboné, Salvador Cotillas, Engracia Lacasa, Cristina Sáez, Ritva Tuunila, Mika Sillanpää, Antti Häkkinen, Manuel A. Rodrigo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


In this work, coagulation and electrocoagulation for the removal of cyanide ions contained in synthetic mining wastewater were evaluated paying particular attention to the elucidation of the coagulation mechanisms. Iron and aluminum salts with concentrations ranging from 0.01 to 10 000 mg dm−3 metal were used in chemical coagulation. Experimental data were properly fitted to Freundlich isotherm to elucidate that the main mechanism to remove cyanide during chemical coagulation was adsorption onto coagulant flocs although a maximum cyanide removal percentage of only 25% was attained. Then, electrochemical coagulation with iron and aluminum electrodes was evaluated at 1, 10 and 100 A m−2, obtaining completely different results. Iron electrochemical coagulation leads to the complete cyanide removal regardless of the current density applied, although the TOC removal was much lower than expected. On the contrary, only 60% of cyanide removal was reached by aluminum electrochemical coagulation and its efficiency was found to be highly dependent on the current density applied. Furthermore, no cyanate or hazardous inorganic chlorine species were detected during both electrocoagulation processes. However, chloride was oxidized to hypochlorite and then, it reacted with ammonium ions (contained in mining wastewater or produced by chemical reduction of nitrate by aluminum) to form chloramines. A proposal of coagulation mechanisms during the electrochemical process that explains experimental results was developed which involved the formation of iron-cyanide complexes, charge neutralization, adsorption on a superficially charged metal precipitate and/or enmeshment into a sweep metal floc.

Original languageEnglish
Article number116345
JournalSeparation and Purification Technology
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Chemical coagulation
  • Coagulation mechanisms
  • Cyanide
  • Electrochemical coagulation
  • Mining wastewater

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Filtration and Separation


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