Environmental impacts by mineral ressource exploitation

Davidschacht, Freiberg
Redox zones in a mine tainlings pond (Davidschacht, Freiberg)

The need for so called economically strategic raw materials (e. g. rare-earth elements, Co, Mo, Re, Sb, platinum metals…) multiplied in the last couple of years. As raw material for high-tech-products such as electric vehicles, energy-saving lamps and wind power plants they are especially influenced by the energy transition, which will cause a rising demand in the next few years. The mining of rare earths for example was dominated by China. But new mines will be (or are already) located in Australia, North America, South Africa and maybe even in Germany.  Mining and ore processing industries generally have a huge environmental impact and are therefore objects of environmental research. As mining activities are at an early stage we know less about the environmental behavior of rare earths and their quantitation (mobilization, bioavailability, ecological toxicity).

One first project deals with the bioavailability of gadolinium and yttrium in maize plants. 

maize experiment with Gd and Y spike
Plant experiment in a greenhouse

Researches into exploitation of resources from tailings (mine dumps) in Central Germany are planned as well. Regarding the understanding of mechanisms of mobilization the speciation analysis of the considered metals plays a major role. Innovative leaching procedures will give information about mobilization reactions.


  • SAATZ J., STRYHANYUK H., VETTERLEIN D., MUSAT N., OTTO M., REEMTSMA T., RICHNOW H.H., DAUS B. (2016): Location and Speciation of Gadolinium and Yttrium in Roots of Zea mays by LA-ICP-MS and ToF-SIMS.- Environmental Pollution 216, 245 -252.
  • MITTERMÜLLER M., SAATZ J., DAUS B. (2016): A sequential extraction procedure to evaluate the mobilisation behaviour of rare earth elements in soils and tailings materials. Chemosphere, 147, 155-162.
  • SAATZ J., VETTERLEIN D., MATTUSCH J., OTTO M., DAUS B. (2015): The Influence of Gadolinium and Yttrium on Biomass Production and Nutrient Balance of Maize Plants, Environ. Poll. 204, 32-38
  • SAATZ, J., VETTERLEIN, D., MATTUSCH, J., OTTO, M., DAUS, B. (2015): Speciation of Gadolinium und Yttrium in Xylem Sap of Zea Mays.- CANAS 2015, Tagungsband S. 34
  • SAATZ, J., MITTERMÜLLER, M., DAUS, B. (2015): Entwicklung einer sequentiellen Extraktionsprozedur zur Bewertung der Bioverfügbarkeit von Seltenerdelementen.- CANAS 2015, Tagungsband S. 90
  • MARC MITTERMÜLLER: Methodenentwicklung zur Charakterisierung des Mobilisierungsverhaltens von Seltenerdelementen aus Tailingsmaterialien und Böden, Masterarbeit, Universität Leipzig, 2014
  • SAATZ, J., VETTERLEIN, D., MATTUSCH, J., OTTO, M., DAUS, B. (2014): Influence of rare earth elements on the nutrient balance of maize plants.- Plant Nutrition 2014 conference, Halle, 10 – 12.09.2014
  • MÜLLER, K., DAUS, B., MATTUSCH, J., VETTERLEIN, D., MERBACH, I., WENNRICH R. (2013): Impact of arsenic on uptake and bio-accumulation of antimony by arsenic hyperaccumulator Pteris vittata. Environmental Pollution 174, 128-133
  • WENNRICH R., DAUS B., MÜLLER K., STÄRK H.-J., BRUEGGEMANN L., MORGENSTERN P. (2012): Behavior of metalloids and metals from highly polluted soil samples when mobilized by water - evaluation of static versus dynamic leaching.- Environm. Pollution 165, 59-66.