Environmental Geochemistry and Health

, Volume 33, Supplement 1, pp 121–132 | Cite as

Relative extraction ratio (RER) for arsenic and heavy metals in soils and tailings from various metal mines, Korea

  • Hye Ok Son
  • Myung Chae Jung
Original paper


This study focused on the evaluation of leaching behaviours for arsenic and heavy metals (Cd, Cu, Ni, Pb and Zn) in soils and tailings contaminated by mining activities. Ten representative mine soils were taken at four representative metal mines in Korea. To evaluate the leaching characteristics of the samples, eight extraction methods were adapted namely 0.1 M HCl, 0.5 M HCl, 1.0 M HCl, 3.0 M HCl, Korean Standard Leaching Procedure for waste materials (KSLP), Synthetic Precipitation Leaching Procedure (SPLP), Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP) and aqua regia extraction (AR) methods. In order to compare element concentrations as extraction methods, relative extraction ratios (RERs, %), defined as element concentration extracted by the individual leaching method divided by that extracted by aqua regia based on USEPA method 3050B, were calculated. Although the RER values can vary upon sample types and elements, they increase with increasing ionic strength of each extracting solution. Thus, the RER for arsenic and heavy metals in the samples increased in the order of KSLP < SPLP < TCLP < 0.1 M HCl < 0.5 M HCl < 1.0 M HCl < 3.0 M HCl. In the same extraction method, the RER values for Cd and Zn were relatively higher than those for As, Cu, Ni and Pb. This may be due to differences in geochemical behaviour of each element, namely high solubility of Cd and Zn and low solubility of As, Cu, Ni and Pb in surface environment. Thus, the extraction results can give important information on the degree and extent of arsenic and heavy metal dispersion in the surface environment.


Relative extraction ratio Mining activity Tailings Arsenic Heavy metal 



This study was fully supported by a grant from the Mine Reclamation Corporation (MIRECO) in Korea.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Energy & Mineral Resources Engineering, College of EngineeringSejong UniversitySeoulKorea

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