Assessing geochemical and natural radioactivity impacts of Hamadat phosphatic mine through radiological indices

Douaa Fathy, Hesham M.H. Zakaly, El Saeed R. Lasheen, Reda Elsaman, Saad S. Alarifi, Mabrouk Sami, Hamdy A. Awad, Antoaneta Ene

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5 Citations (Scopus)


The utilization of phosphorite deposits as an industrial resource is of paramount importance, and its sustainability largely depends on ensuring safe and responsible practices. This study aims to evaluate the suitability of phosphorite deposits for industrial applications such as the production of phosphoric acid and phosphatic fertilizers. To achieve this goal, the study meticulously examines the geochemical characteristics of the deposits, investigates the distribution of natural Radioactivity within them, and assesses the potential radiological risk associated with their use. The phosphorites are massive and collected from different beds within the Duwi Formation at the Hamadat mining area. They are grain-supported and composed of phosphatic pellets, bioclasts (bones), non-phosphatic minerals, and cement. Geochemically, phosphorites contain high concentrations of P2O5 (23.59-28.36 wt.%) and CaO (40.85-44.35 wt.%), with low amounts of Al2O3 (0.23-0.51 wt.%), TiO2 (0.01-0.03 wt.%), Fe2O3 (1.14-2.28 wt.%), Na2O (0.37-1.19 wt.%), K2O (0.03-0.12 wt.%), and MnO (0.08- 0.18 wt.%), suggesting the low contribution of the detrital material during their deposition. Moreover, they belong to contain enhanced U concentration (55-128 ppm). They are also enriched with Sr, Ba, Cr, V, and Zn and depleted in Th, Zr, and Rb, which strongly supports the low detrital input during the formation of the Hamadat phosphorites. The high Radioactivity of the studied phosphorites is probably due to the widespread occurrence of phosphatic components (e.g., apatite) that accommodate U in high concentrations. Gamma spectrometry based on NaI (Tl) crystal 3×3 has been used to measure occurring radionuclides in the phosphorite samples. The results indicate that the radioactive concentrations' average values of 226Ra, 232Th, and 40K are 184.18±9.19, 125.82±6.29, and 63.82±3.19 Bq Kg-1 , respectively. Additionally, evaluations have been made of the radiological hazards. The calculated risk indicators exceeded the recommended national and world averages. The data obtained will serve as a reference for follow-up studies to evaluate the effectiveness of the Radioactivity of phosphatic materials collected from the Hamdat mine area.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0287422
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number8 August
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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