Tasmania Community Human Health Risk Investigation for Mine Site Mercury Impact
iEnvironmental’s Michael Nicholls implemented a surface water, sediment, and soil sampling programme at an island of Tasmania, on behalf of a community group near the municipal potable water intake, and in an open scheelite mine pit at various depths, and surrounding flood zone.
In response to community risk concerns, and to help determine if the mine was linked to levels of mercury in resident’s hair and blood samples a sampling programme was developed.
Scheelite is calcium tungstate mineral with the chemical formula CaWO4, and during the mining process, mercury is often present in significant concentrations with the tungsten.
Creek bed sediment was collected by a sediment grab-sampler in the mine pit, creek municipal water supply intakes, and soil in the creek bank and channel flood zones. Rock and sediment samples were also collected from the scheelite mine tailings dam and surroundings.
There was a large volume of tailings, soil and sediment and understanding the mine site history was imperative for the limited sampling program. The study results indicated that there was likely minimal risk associated with the areas sampled.
Several government bodies, community groups, and media were managed in a communications plan developed for the project.