Distribution of Heavy Metals in Soils in the Vicinity of the Proposed Mkuju Uranium Mine in Tanzania

  •  Firmi P. Banzi    
  •  Peter K. Msaki    
  •  Najat K. Mohammed    


Tanzania is at advance stages in the preparation to start uranium mining at Mkuju River Deposit. In order to implement best practice in environmental management in uranium mining as required by national and international regulations and standards, a set of site specific baseline data have to be established prior the mining operation. In order to establish heavy metal baseline data for this purpose, a total of 84 soil samples were collected from clustered area of about 1,300 km2 at two depths: 0-15 cm and 15-30 cm. Analysis of the data using EDXRF showed a total metal concentration ranges of 3570-19400 for Al, 15200-58600 Fe, 400-1400 Mn, 15.2-54.9 Cr, 13.5-51.0 Zn, 2.2-45.3 Pb, 2.1-37.3 Cd, 0.2-23.0 Hg, 1.8-25.1Cu, 2.1-22.7 Ni and 0.8-9.1 mgkg-1for Co. Since the spatial distributions of heavy metals in the vicinity of the planned uranium mine are comparable to established global concentration ranges in soils, it is an indication that the distribution is natural. By virtue of their strong association with uranium and immobility in soil, spatial distributions of lead and copper concentrations would be more sensitive indicators for monitoring uranium related soil contaminants when the uranium mine become operational.

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