Unravelling the sinks, associations and speciation of critical elements antimony and germanium

During the last years, the demand for both antimony (Sb) and germanium (Ge) has grown due to the increasing use of these elements in new technological applications. This development requires more in-depth knowledge about their chemical behaviour in the environment as well as in technical processes. Both antimony and germanium often occur as elements accompanying the mining of metal ores, as for example in the catchment of the Macleay River in New South Wales, Australia.

Macleay River Catchment Macleay River Catchment (Photo: M. Ullrich) The catchment of the Macleay River has been shaped significantly by mining activities and as a result, the Macleay River is highly contaminated with Sb. The aim of the project is to investigate the mobilization and the mechanisms underlying the transport of Sb and Ge. In order to identify and quantify the prevailing compounds, newly developed methods based on a combination of HPLC-HG-AFS and HPLC-ICP-MS will be employed. Together with our project partners at the University of New England in Armidale we are working towards a comprehensive understanding of the biogeochemical behaviour of these critical elements.

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