Geochemical speciation of mercury in bauxite
The presence of trace concentrations of mercury in bauxite is a potential environmental concern in the Bayer alumina refining process. An understanding of the geochemical speciation of mercury in bauxite provides insight into the behavior of mercury in the Bayer process. The speciation of mercury was evaluated using a novel continuous thermal desorption methodology, sequential extractions, alkaline digestion, aqua regia digestion and hydrofluoric acid total dissolution assay. Thermal desorption demonstrated two distinct mercury forms. Labile mercury was found to be present as metacinnabar or organic-associated mercury, while refractory mercury was associated with quartz or other refractory silicates.