New Mexico Geological Society Annual Spring Meeting — Abstracts

Rare earth elements and major constituents in surface water from Lee Ranch Mine

John J. Lempke1, Bonnie Frey1 and Virginia Mclemore1

1New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Socorro, NM, 87801,

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Rare earth elements (REE) have been investigated in coals and coal byproducts in recent years. In this study, water from Lee Ranch Mine, a surface mine that produced 3.7 million tons of coal, was collected for analysis in the Analytical chemistry laboratory in the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources. Equipment in the lab includes ion chromatography (for anions), inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer, induced coupled plasma optical emission spectrometer (for cations), and an autotitrator. Surface water samples were collected from pits at Lee Ranch Mine, and analyzed for major and trace constituents, including REE. Compared to mine waste water from other sites in New Mexico, which include copper mines from the Steeple Rock and Hillsboro districts, REE and trace metal content in water from the Lee Ranch Mine is relatively low and has no significant value of either. REE data collected was barely above method detection limits, and a majority of trace metals were below reporting limits. Major cation and anion data indicate that the water from reclaimed and unreclaimed sites at Lee Ranch mine have different hydrochemical compositions, with reclaimed water having a sodium-chloride composition and unreclaimed water having more of calcium-chloride composition.

pp. 50

2024 New Mexico Geological Society Annual Spring Meeting
April 19, 2024, Macey Center, Socorro, NM
Online ISSN: 2834-5800