Uranium mining and processing at Lagoa Real (Bahia, Brazil) started in 2000. Hydrogeochemical monitoring carried out from 1999 to 2001 revealed generally good quality of the water resources outside and inside the mineralized area. No chemical contamination in waters for domestic uses was observed. Hydrochemical characteristics did not vary significantly after 1 year of U exploitation, as compared to premining conditions. Due to the short time of mining, the results cannot exclude future variations in water quality. Leaching experiments helped to describe processes of ore and waste degradation. Sulfate was identified as an indicator for different types of contamination. Potential hazards related to local climate (hot rainy season) were identified. They indicate that tailings derived from the ore processing, destabilized by sulfuric acid attack, may induce acidification and salinization in the surrounding environment. Another potential source of environmental impact could be linked to local radium-rich mineralization, originating radon emission.
1/ Universidade Federal Bahia. Deceased.
2/ Universita Cagliari.
3/ IRSN Fontenay aux Roses.
4/ DEN/CEA Gif-sur-Yvette.
5/ Université Paris 7. Present address: PEPS, Université Claude Bernard, Lyon 1, France.