Mineralogy and leaching characteristics of beneficiated coal products from Santa Catarina, Brazil

Marcos L.S. Oliveira, Colin R. Ward, David French, James C. Hower, Xavier Querol, Luis F.O. Silva

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126 Scopus citations


Petrographic, mineralogical and geochemical studies have been carried out on beneficiated coal products from mines and preparation plants in the Santa Catarina Basin, southern Brazil, to investigate the range of characteristics exhibited by the materials and the potential impact of their stockpiling and storage on the environment. The coals contain varying proportions of vitrinite and inertinite macerals, and have vitrinite reflectance values ranging from 0.44 to 1.38%. With the exception of one material blended with peat from an external source, they have relatively high percentages of ash (30-58%) and mineral matter (36-66%). The mineral matter consists mainly of clay minerals (kaolinite, illite and illite/smectite), together with 15-25% quartz, up to 10% feldspar, up to 5% calcite and/or dolomite and up to 5% pyrite, and around 1% anatase and/or rutile. Bassanite is also present in low-temperature ash derived from the coals, mainly derived from interaction of Ca and S associated with the organic matter. Jarosite is formed by pyrite oxidation in coals that have been exposed in stockpiles for extended periods.Most of the trace elements in most of the coals have higher concentrations than average values for world coals generally, probably due to the relatively high mineral matter content. A lower-ash product representing a blend of coal and peat has similar to lower concentrations of most elements, but higher concentrations of B, Ba, Be, Cd, Ge and Mn, which may be associated with the peat component. Interaction of relatively fresh coals with water in laboratory tests produces leachates with near-neutral to mildly acid pH values, but leaching of oxidized, jarosite-bearing coal produces a strongly acid leachate, with higher concentrations of Cd, Co, Cu, Ni and Zn. Leachates derived from coals in which the pyrite has been oxidized during storage would thus be expected to have a more adverse environmental impact than leachates derived from coals in which such oxidation has not had an opportunity to develop.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)314-325
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Coal Geology
StatePublished - May 1 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Marcos L. S. Oliveira and Luis Silva benefited from a scholarship financed by CNPq, Brazil – Ref: 382954/2011-4 and Processo: 380649/2011-0. The work performed by the group in Brazil was carried out with support from the Catarinense Institute of Environmental Research and Human Development (IPADHC). Thanks are expressed to Owen Farrell and David Jacyna of CSIRO, and to Irene Wainwright of UNSW, for assistance with the analytical work. Thanks are expressed to Shifeng Dai, Alan Kolker and an anonymous reviewer for constructive comments on the manuscript.


  • Coal petrology
  • Environmental impact
  • Leaching
  • Mineral matter
  • Trace elements

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Fuel Technology
  • Geology
  • Economic Geology
  • Stratigraphy


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