Abstract

The sodium-magnesium hydrated double salt konyaite, Na2Mg(SO4)2·5H2O, has been studied by single-crystal X-ray diffraction and thermogravimetry on synthetic samples and by quantitative X-ray diffraction utilizing the Rietveld method on natural samples from the Mount Keith mine, Western Australia. Konyaite crystallizes in space group P21/c, with the cell parameters: a = 5.7594(10), b = 23.914(4), c = 8.0250(13) Å, β = 95.288(9)°, V = 1100.6(3) Å3 and Z = 4. The crystal structure has been refined to R1 = 3.41% for 2155 reflections [Fo>4σ(Fo)] and 6.44% for all 3061 reflections, with all atoms located.

Quantitative phase analysis utilizing the Rietveld method was undertaken on five samples of konyaite-bearing mine tailings from the Mount Keith Nickel Mine, Western Australia. Konyaite was found to decompose over time and after 22 months had transformed to other sulphate and amorphous phases. Blödite did not increase in any of the samples indicating that konyaite may not always transform to blödite. Over the same time frame, synthetic konyaite completely decomposed to a mixture of thenardite (Na2SO4), hexahydrite (MgSO4·6H2O), blödite (Na2Mg(SO4)2·4H2O) and löweite (Na12Mg7(SO4)13). Detection of konyaite and other Mg-rich sulphates is important in terms of CO2 fixation. Magnesium bound to sulphate mineral phases reduces the overall potential of tailings piles to lock up atmospheric carbon in Mg carbonates, such as hydromagnesite. Amorphous sulphates are also highly reactive and may contribute to acid mine drainage if present in large quantities, and may dissolve carbonate phases which have already sequestered carbon.

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