Acid Mine Drainage in the Mid-Atlantic Region
Acid Mine Drainage ( AMD ) is presently the chief pollutant of surface H2O in the middle Atlantic part. AMD is caused when H2O flows over or through sulphur-bearing stuffs organizing solutions of net sourness. AMD comes chiefly from abandoned coal mines and presently active excavation. AMD degrades more than 4,500 watercourse stat mis
in the middle Atlantic part with the loss of aquatic life, and restricts watercourse usage for diversion, public imbibing H2O and industrial H2O supplies ( U.S. Environmental Protection Urgency, 2009:27 )
South Africa is a water-stressed state. Security of H2O supply has become a cardinal strategic issue every bit good as driver for continued and sustained economic growing and service bringing to the people of South Africa. The South African excavation sector is one of the critical pillars and drivers of the South African economic system.
However, excavation activities are besides associated with environmental taint such as acerb mine drainage ( AMD ) . AMD is extremely acidic H2O, normally incorporating high concentrations of metals, sulfides, and salts as a effect of excavation activity. The major beginnings of AMD include drainage from belowground mine shafts, overflow and discharge from unfastened cavities and mine waste mopess, shadowings and ore reserves, which make up about 88 % of all waste produced in South Africa. Drain from abandoned belowground mine shafts into surface H2O systems ( decant ) may happen as the mine shafts fill with H2O. Although the chemical science of AMD coevals is straightforward, the concluding merchandise is a map of the geology of the excavation part, presence of microorganisms, temperature and besides of the handiness of H2O and O. These factors are extremely variable from one part to another, and, for this ground, the anticipation, bar, containment and intervention of AMD must be considered carefully and with great specificity.
The gold excavation industry in South Africa ( chiefly the Witwatersrand Goldfield ) is in diminution, but the post-closure decant of AMD is an tremendous menace, and this could go worse if remedial activities are delayed or non implemented. For illustration, acid mine H2O started to pour from defunct flooded belowground mine workings near Krugersdorp on the West Rand in August 2002, taking to contaminated surface H2O. Randfontein and the Wonderfontein Spruit are besides debatable. These instances have received significant media attending, which has been critical of the attempts so far to turn to the jobs. In the absence of redress, there is likely to be well more decant in future, with potentially terrible deductions for aquatic systems.
AMD from coal excavation is debatable in the Highveld Coalfield in Mpumalanga, and has been reflected by media attending on the effects of terrible pollution seen in the Loskop Dam and the Olifants River Catchment. It is likely that new coal excavation in the Waterberg Coalfield ( Limpopo Province ) will take to similar jobs in that country in the hereafter ( CSIR: Briefing Note 2009/02 August 2009 )
2.3.2 Acid Mine Drainage
Mine drainage is metal-rich H2O formed from chemical reaction between H2O and stones incorporating sulphur-bearing minerals. The overflow formed is normally acidic and often comes from countries where ore or coal excavation activities have exposed stones incorporating fool’s gold, a sulfur bearing mineral. Metal-rich drainage can besides happen in mineralized countries that have non been mined.
Acid Mine Drainage occurs as follows:
& A ; bull ; Mine drainage is formed when fool’s gold, an Fe sulfide, is exposed and reacts with air and H2O to organize sulfuric acid and dissolved Fe ;
& A ; bull ; Some or all of this Fe can precipitate to organize the ruddy, orange, or xanthous deposits in the underside of watercourses incorporating mine drainage ;
& A ; bull ; The acid overflow further dissolves heavy metals such as Cu, lead, quicksilver into land or surface H2O ;
& A ; bull ; The rate and grade by which acid-mine drainage returns can be increased by the action of certain bacteriums.
Impacts of Acid Mine Drainage are as follows:
& A ; bull ; Contaminated imbibing H2O ;
& A ; bull ; Disrupted growing and reproduction of aquatic workss and animate beings ; and
& A ; bull ; Corroding effects of acid on parts of substructure such as Bridgess
The badness of, and impacts from, AMD/ARD are chiefly a map of the mineralogy of the stone stuff and the handiness of H2O and O some dissolved metals may stay in solution. Dissolved metals in acerb drainage may include lead, Cu, Ag, manganese, Cd, Fe, and Zn, among other metals. Elevated concentrations of these metals in surface H2O and groundwater can prevent its usage as imbibing H2O or aquatic home ground ( Banister et al. , 2002:4 ) .
2.3.3 Acid Drainage Generation
Acid is generated at mine sites when metal sulphide minerals are oxidized and sufficient H2O is present to mobilise the sulfur ion. Metal sulfide minerals are common components in the host stone associated with metal excavation activity.
Prior to excavation, oxidization of these minerals and the formation of sulfuric acid is a map of natural weathering procedures. The oxidization of undisturbed ore organic structures followed by the release of acid and mobilisation of metals is slow. Natural discharge from such sedimentations airss little menace to having aquatic ecosystems except in rare cases. Mining and mineral extraction operations greatly increase the rate of these same chemical reactions by taking big volumes of sulphide stone stuff and exposing increased surface country to air and H2O. Materials/wastes that have the possible to bring forth ARD as a consequence of metal excavation activity include mined stuff, such as spent ore from pile and dump leach operations, shadowings, and waste stone units, every bit good as overburden stuff. AMD coevals in the mines themselves occurs at the cavity walls in the instance of surface excavation operations and in the belowground workings associated with belowground mines.
The potency for a mine or its associated waste to bring forth acid and release contaminations depends on many factors and is site-specific. These site-specific factors can be categorized as coevals factors, control factors, and physical factors.
Coevals factors determine the ability of the stuff to bring forth acid. Water and O are necessary to bring forth acerb drainage ; certain bacteriums enhance acerb coevals. Water serves as a reactant, a medium for bacteriums, and the conveyance medium for the oxidization merchandises. A ready supply of atmospheric O is required to drive the oxidization reaction. Oxygen is peculiarly of import in keeping the rapid oxidization catalyzed by bacteriums at pH values below 3.5. Oxidation of sulfides is significantly reduced when the concentration of O in the pore infinites of mining waste units is less than 1 or 2 per centum. Different bacteriums are better suited to different pH degrees and physical factors ( discussed below ) . The type of bacteriums and population sizes change as growing conditions are optimized ( Wade et al,
Chemical control factors determine the merchandises of oxidization reaction. These factors include the ability of the coevals stone or having H2O to either neutralize the acid ( positive consequence ) or to alter the wastewater character by adding metals ions mobilized by residuary acid ( negative consequence ) . Neutralization of acid by the alkalinity released when acerb reacts with carbonate minerals is an of import agencies of chairing acerb production and can function to detain the oncoming of acerb production for long periods or even indefinitely. The most common neutralizing minerals are calcite and dolomite. Merchandises from the oxidization reaction, such as H ions and metal ions, may besides respond with other non-neutralizing components. Possible reactions include ion exchange on clay atoms, gypsum precipitation, and disintegration of other minerals. The disintegration of other minerals contributes to the contaminant burden in the acerb drainage. Examples of metals happening in the dissolved signifier include aluminum, manganese, Cu, lead, Zn, and others ( Pulles et al. , 2005:7 ) .
Physical factors include the physical features of the waste or construction, the manner in which acid-generating and acid-neutralizing stuffs are placed, and the local hydrology. The physical nature of the stuff, such as atom size, permeableness, and physical weathering features, is of import to the acerb coevals potency. Though hard to weigh, each of these factors influences the potency for acerb coevals and is, hence, an of import consideration for long term waste direction. Particle size is a cardinal concern because it affects