The chemistry of conventional and alternative treatment systems for the neutralization of acid mine drainage

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The oxidation of pyritic mining waste is a self-perpetuating corrosive process which generates acid mine drainage (AMD) effluent for centuries or longer. The chemical neutralization of these complex, buffered effluents result in unstable, metal-laden sludges, which require disposal to minimize long-term environmental consequences. A variety of passive treatment systems for AMD, developed in the past two decades, combine limestone and organic substrates in constructed wetlands. These systems work well initially but over the longer term fail due to clogging with and the depletion of available organic carbon. However, some ecologically engineered systems, which exploit the activities of acid reducing microbes in the sediment, rely on photosynthesis in the water column as a source of organic matter. The primary productivity in the water column, which also generates some alkalinity, provides electron donors for the microbial reduction processes in the sediment. In its consideration of 'passive' systems, the literature has placed undue emphasis on sulphate reduction; thermodynamical iron reduction is equally important as is the need to prevent iron oxidation. Secondary precipitates of iron play a significant role in sediment-driven biomineralization processes, which affect the anaerobic degradation of organic matter and the stability of the resulting metal sulfides. One such passive system, which utilized a floating root mass as a source of organic carbon, is described. An extensive review of the literature and the chemical and biogeochemical reactions of AMD treatment systems, lead to the conclusion, that sediment based ecological systems offer the greatest potential for the sustainable treatment of AMD. © 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.




Kalin, M., Fyson, A., & Wheeler, W. N. (2006, August 1). The chemistry of conventional and alternative treatment systems for the neutralization of acid mine drainage. Science of the Total Environment.

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