Elevated toxicity of resuspended mine tailings over time

Keshtav S. Ramdial, Richard Abell, Kim S. Last

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
25 Downloads (Pure)


Resuspension of disposed mine tailings is an important secondary source of heavy metal pollution in affected regions. UK copper mine tailings were continuously resuspended in seawater over 14 days to understand potential metal dissolution and associated ecotoxicological impacts. Aqueous concentrations of arsenic increased 859%, nickel 85%, manganese and cadmium over 40%, and vanadium and zinc over 20%. Green sea urchin (Psammechinus miliaris) gametes were exposed to 18-h (18hr) and 14-day (14d) resuspension elutriates. Fertilisation success dropped from 72% (18hr) to 21.06% (14d). Toxicity Index (TI) values (reduced fertilisation membrane quality and fertilisation success) increased from 1.6 (18hr) to 2.8 (14d). Embryo polyspermy frequencies increased from 17.58% (18hr) to 21.13% (14d). Higher TI values and polyspermy rates indicate impacts may go beyond standard bioassay endpoints. Current predictions of mine tailing impacts may be underestimated. This is important for ecosystem resilience when considering other anthropogenic stressors such as climate change.
Original languageEnglish
Article number105471
Number of pages13
JournalMarine Environmental Research
Early online date30 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2021


  • Mine tailings
  • Resuspension
  • Heavy metals
  • Dissolution
  • Ecotoxicology
  • Sea Urchin


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