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Management and Treatment of Water

from Hard Rock Mines

Index
1.0 PURPOSE
2.0 SUMMARY
3.0 INTRODUCTION
3.1 Background: Environmental Problems
at Hard-Rock Mines
3.2 Conceptual Models at Hard-Rock
Mines
3.3 The Process of Selecting Remedial
Technologies
3.4 Resources for Additional Information
4.0 TECHNOLOGY DESCRIPTIONS
4.1 Source Control
4.1.1 Capping and Revegetation for
Source Control
4.1.2 Plugging Drainage Sources and
Interception of Drainage by
Diversion Wells
4.1.3 Prevention of Acid Drainage via
Protective Neutralization
4.1.4 Passivation of Sulfidic Rock
4.2 Treatment of Contaminated Water
4.2.1 Treatment of Acidic Waters
4.2.2 Treatment of Neutral and
Alkaline Waters
4.2.3 Treatment of Mine Water with
Microbial Processes
4.3 Mine Pit Lake Management
4.3.1 Backfilling and Neutralization
4.3.2 Bioremediation and Induced
Stratification of Mine Pit Lakes
5.0 CONCLUSION
6.0 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
7.0 ACRONYMS AND ABBREVIATIONS
8.0 REFERENCES

1.0 PURPOSE
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Engineering Issues
are a new series of technology transfer documents that summarize the
latest available information on selected treatment and site remediation
technologies and related issues. They are designed to help remedial
project managers (RPMs), on-scene coordinators (OSCs), contractors,
and other site managers understand the type of data and site charac­
teristics needed to evaluate a technology for potential applicability to
their specific sites. Each Engineering Issue document is developed in
conjunction with a small group of scientists inside the EPA and with
outside consultants, and relies on peer-reviewed literature, EPA re­
ports, Internet sources, current research, and other pertinent informa­
tion. The purpose of this document is to present the “state of the sci­
ence” regarding management and treatment of hard-rock mines.
Internet links are provided for readers interested in additional infor­
mation; these Internet links, verified as accurate at the time of publi­
cation, are subject to change.
2.0 SUMMARY
Contaminated water draining from hard rock mine sites continues
to be a water quality problem in many parts of the U.S. The types of
water range from strongly acidic water laden with metals, to variable
water quality in mining pit lakes, to alkaline water being released from
closed cyanide heap leach operations.
Prevention of water contamination at mine sites is usually the best op­
tion and can sometimes be realized by appropriate management of waste
material, or by hydrologic control in underground systems, or by using
a variety of capping methods for waste rock dumps or closed heaps.
However, long-term (decades and beyond) treatment is, and will con­
tinue to be, required at many sites. Once a contamination source is
established (e.g., reactive waste rock dumps), elimination of these as
sources of water is often very expensive and technically challenging.
Acid drainage remains the most problematic water quality, in large
part due to the ability of acidic water to dissolve a variety of toxic
metals (e.g., cadmium, zinc, nickel) and release of that water to sur­
face or ground water. The most common treatment is neutralization
using lime, or another suitable alkaline agent, followed by oxidation
and precipitation of metals. This will also reduce sulfate to near the
gypsum solubility limit (approximately 2,000 mg/L, depending on

calcium concentrations). A variety of methods have been tive in many cases, further research is required to reduce
utilized to add lime to acidic water, and, particularly for water treatment costs and increase the reliability of these
large flows (100 gal/min) and/or high acidity/metals technologies.
loadings, this option is usually the most cost effective.
Other methods for treatment of acidic water include a
variety of wetland systems and bioreactors that are based
on sulfate reducing bacteria that reduce sulfuric acid to
hydrogen sulfide, which consumes acidity and allows
precipitation of metals as metal sulfides. These systems
can either utilize the wetland organic carbon or an exog­
enously supplied carbon source (e.g., ethanol) for sulfate
reduction. These systems show particular promise where
the flows and acidities are relatively low. The advantage
of these systems is that they commonly do not require
the same level of monitoring and operational expense as
the lime systems. They also can reduce sulfate levels to
well below the gypsum solubility limits, depending on the
characteristics of the bioreactor/wetland system utilized.

3.0 INTRODUCTION

This Engineering Issue document on treatment of min­
ing waters is a practical guide to understanding and se­
lecting technologies for the environmental management
of waste materials and effluents at hard-rock mines. For
the purposes of this discussion, hard-rock mining primar­
ily refers to open pit and underground mines that produce
base metals (e.g., copper, zinc, lead) and precious metals
(e.g., gold and silver). While drainage from coal mines has
similar water quality issues, coal drainage has been consid­
ered extensively in other publications. It responds to the
need for environmental management at new and aban­
doned hard-rock mines by providing guidance for select­
ing among available technologies for the stabilization of
Drainage from precious metals heaps and tailings facili­ mine waste, treatment of mine water, and management of
ties offers a different set of challenges. While most of the mine pit lakes. Target audiences are operators, regulators,
precious metals heaps and tailings are not acid generating, stakeholders, and technical consultants involved in select­
several examples of acid generating processing wastes ex­ ing technologies for environmental management of hardist in western states. In most cases in mine closures, the rock mines. The general contents of this Engineering Issue
residual water used in cyanide extraction of precious met­ document are listed above in the Table of Contents.
als remains net alkaline, and was continuously recycled
The goal of this document is to increase the efficiency
during operation. The soluble constituents were concen­
of decision makers in defining the scope of mine-related
trated as water evaporated, and often contain elevated so­
water quality problems and selecting the least expensive
dium from the sodium cyanide used in the process. Thus,
effective management technology. It begins with technical
land application of these fluids should be limited, due to
overviews and conceptual models of contaminant sources
salts, arsenic and other constituents. Other than ion re­
(i.e., environmental behavior in the dominant hard-rock
moval technologies (e.g., reverse osmosis), few cost effec­
mining facilities—waste rock and heap leach facilities,
tive methods for treatment and release of these water are
tailings impoundments, and pit lakes). A general overview
available. In arid regions, evaporation is often the only
of remedial technologies (acid neutralization, biologically
option available for such heaps and tailings facilities.
induced sulfide treatment, and pit lake management) fol­
Mining pit lakes that are derived from open pit mines that lows. With these technical foundations reviewed, specific
penetrated ground water are particularly prevalent in the remedial technologies are presented individually and de­
precious metals and copper mines in the western United scribed using the context of the feasibility study process—
States. The water quality can vary from a highly acidic sys­ a practical framework for selecting remedial technologies
tem in high sulfide host rock to slightly alkaline, better based on implementability, effectiveness, and cost.
quality water in carbonate host rock. While treatment of
pit lakes is potentially expensive, at least one example of
3.1 Background: Environmental Problems at
neutralization of an acidic pit lake (Sleeper Pit Lake in Ne­
Hard-Rock Mines
vada) has demonstrated that this is technically possible.
Few environmental problems are as widely documented as
Because of the long-term nature of many of these drainag­
the legacy of historic hard-rock mines. Small mines, oper­
es, methods for cost-effective treatments are still needed.
ating in the era before environmental regulation, removed
Many of the presently available technologies have been
and milled ore primarily from vein deposits, leaving un­
derived from coal mine drainage research. While effec­
vegetated spoils, unsealed adits, and often-acidic seepage
2

Engineering Issue

laden with metals. Modern U.S. hard-rock mining is in
sharp contrast, with closure designs and associated finan­
cial bonds for environmental management commonly re­
quired even before operations begin and water discharges
permitted only within the constraints of the Clean Water
and Safe Drinking Water Acts. Environmental issues re­
main, of course, and economies of scale have produced
larger operations, but today’s mines are better managed—
water is treated, and waste is capped and revegetated. Clo­
sure requirements for modern mines depend on the reg­
ulatory requirements and the environmental capabilities
and risk of the associated mine.

Acidic drainage is the dominant environmental problem
associated with hard-rock mining. Many valuable metals
in ore deposits are bound to sulfide sulfur, forming spar­
ingly soluble sulfide minerals such as sphalerite (ZnS),
covellite (CuS), or galena (PbS). Acidic drainage forms
primarily when iron sulfide, pyrite (FeS2), comes in con­
tact with water and oxygen, producing dissolved sulfuric
acid and iron. The three steps summarizing this overall
reaction are:

Collectively, the economic liabilities and technical
challenges of hard-rock mining are immense (if poorly
constrained):
Although no global estimation of the impact of acid
drainage exists, total liability costs for potentially acidgenerating wastes at mining sites is estimated to be
US$530 million in Australia, between US$1.2 and
20.6 billion in the USA, and US$1.3 and 3.3 billion
in Canada. Effectively dealing with acid drainage has
been—and continues to be—a formidable challenge for
which no global solutions currently exist. Acid drain­
age is one of the most serious and potentially enduring
environmental problems of the mining industry. Left
unchecked, it can result in such extensive water quality
impacts that it could well be this industry’s most harm­
ful legacy. (INAP, 2004)

Pyrite oxidation liberates soluble iron (Fe2) and acidity
(H) and sulfate, with the primary limit on the oxidation
rate being the availability of oxygen. The oxidation pro­
cess also liberates other sulfide-bound metals (e.g., cadmi­
um, zinc, copper, lead, uranium) and metalloids (e.g., ar­
senic, antimony, selenium). In addition, most metals are
more soluble under acidic conditions (i.e., at low pH), so
oxidation and acid production tend to be associated with
increasing metal concentrations. The result is that acidic
conditions (low pH) in mine effluent tend to be highly
correlated to elevated heavy metal concentrations.

There remains an enormous need for development and
evaluation of effective low-cost technologies for stabiliza­
tion and treatment of mine waste.

SO4  Ca2  CaSO4(S)

7
FeS2(S)  
O  H2O  Fe2  2SO42  2 H
2 2
1
1
Fe2  
O  H  Fe3  
HO
4 2
2 2
3
Fe  3H2O  Fe(OH)3(S)  3H

(3-1)
(3-2)
(3-3)

The primary offset to acid production in natural systems
is the consumption of acidity by calcite (CaCO3):
CaCO3  2H  Ca2  CO2(G)  H2O

(3-4)

and precipitating sulfate as calcium sulfate (CaSO4).
(3-5)

Acidic mine water that is neutralized by reaction with
calcite generally contains 1,500–2,200 mg/L sulfate. Fur­
ther, the consumption of acidity in Equation 3-4 increas­
3.2 Conceptual Models at Hard-Rock Mines
es the pH, which tends to decrease total heavy metal con­
The main processes responsible for water quality deg­ centrations as these constituents precipitate or adsorb to
radation at hard-rock mines are reviewed here briefly surfaces.
to provide a foundation for understanding remediation Figure 3-1 is a model simulation illustrating how pore
technologies. Mine water contamination comes from two water in waste rock or tailings will change as pyrite and
sources: release of constituents contained in rock that calcite are consumed during oxidation. The top graph
has been mined and chemical reagents used in mining, shows the amount of acid-generating potential (AGP) (as
milling, extraction, and ultimate recovery of the valuable pyrite) and acid neutralizing potential (ANP) from cal­
metal or mineral. The largest source of water contamina­ cite (CaCO ) remaining, with increasing oxidation (also
3
tion is nearly always the material being mined. Ore and related to increasing time) shown along the graph from
waste rock has generally been isolated from oxygen and left to right. As long as calcite remains, pore water pH re­
water for geologic time frames, and bringing the material mains near neutral and sulfate concentrations are limited
to the surface potentially results in reactions that release to below 3,000 mg/L. Once all calcite is consumed, acid
contaminants that degrade water quality.
buffering ceases, the pH drops to below 3, and dissolved
sulfate increases. Results indicate the dramatic change in
Engineering Issue

3

water quality that can occur when excess AGP remains in
materials.

Figure 3-1. Oxidation of mine waste and production of sulfate. This
idealized 10% sulfide rock contains both pyrite and calcite and
demonstrates how sulfate concentration and pH are changed as
the sulfides in the rock are oxidized and the capacity to neutralize
the acid is consumed.

nologies discussed in this document are presented in a for­
mat that supports the EPA’s feasibility study process. An
overview of each technology (Tables 4-1, 4-5, and 4-6) is
provided to facilitate early screening of inappropriate op­
tions. Details of each technology are presented in the text,
with a focus on identifying those parameters most criti­
cal in evaluating implementability, effectiveness, and cost.
Where possible, specific examples of cost and effectiveness
under pilot- or full-scale implementation are provided.
The feasibility study process provides a framework for se­
lecting from a range of remedial technologies for specific
site conditions amidst the interests of regulators, stake­
holders, and technology developers. The process begins
with a characterization of the problem (e.g., chemicals of
concern, risks, exposure paths, identification of remedial
goals, etc.), then identifies potential technologies (screen­
ing process), and finally evaluates the feasibility of a short
list of technologies to select a remedy.

The primary technical evaluation criteria for feasibility
Contaminated mine waters may also be neutral to alka­ under Superfund (EPA, 1988) are:
line, depending on the type of rock being mined and the ● Effectiveness—the potential for the alternative to

achieve remedial goals established for the site.

reagents used to selectively extract the valuable substance.
Thus rock with excess calcite will produce pH-neutral ef­ ● Implementability—the ability to comply with tech­
fluent. However, neutralized mine waste effluent can still
nical and administrative issues and constraints in­
contain elevated metalloids, such as selenium, arsenic, and
volved in implementing a technology at a specific site.
antimony. Zinc and other heavy metals have also been ob­ ● Cost—typically an estimate of net-present cost for

served in pH-neutral mine waters (e.g., the Burleigh Tun­
each technology.

nel and Wellington Oro Mine discharges in Colorado).
Metal recovery reagents that may present water quality In practice, implementers identify the technologies that
issues include a variety of flotation agents for concentra­ can meet their water quality goals (“effectiveness”), elimi­
tion of metals, as well as lixiviants, particularly cyanide. In nate those that can’t be applied for practical reasons (“im­
the latter case, cyanide can form complexes with a variety plementability”), then implement the least expensive op­
of metals that are very weak (e.g., zinc cyanide) to strong tion (“cost”). This document is intended to support this
complexes (e.g., cobalt, iron, and mercury cyanides) and technology selection process, providing descriptions of
also transformation products of cyanide, particularly thio­ the common environmental technologies for hard-rock
mining and identifying the critical components affecting
cyanate and nitrate.
the feasibility of each.
Selecting a technology can be more difficult than imple­
menting it. The critical components in the evaluation and
selection of a technology include:
Selection of an optimal technology for a specific reme­
● Source definition—water flow rates, material mass,
diation problem would, ideally, follow from tightly con­
solute concentrations, expected duration, etc.
strained algorithms or flow charts. Regrettably, critical de­
cision variables, such as cost per cubic meter to treat water, ● Identification of environmental goals—discharge
standards, compliance points, and human or ecologi­
net percolation through caps, etc., are generally too de­
cal risk thresholds.
pendent on site-specific conditions to allow direct trans­
fer between projects. Design methods are transferable across ● Identification of applicable technologies—those

technologies potentially capable of meeting goals.

sites, but not specific designs. In response, remedial tech­
3.3 The Process of Selecting Remedial
Technologies

4

Engineering Issue

0 TECHNOLOGY DESCRIPTIONS The strategy for management and protection of water quality at mine sites varies on a site-specific basis.html. Water Treatment: methods of reducing contaminants in mine waters or otherwise managing contaminated water to reduce impacts to humans and the environment. this discussion will primarily consider waters re­ leased from these important metals mines.csp2. ● The Restoration of Abandoned Mine Sites Technol­ ogy Database (RAMS tech): http://www.org/s. ● “Hardrock Reclamation Bonding Practices in the Western United States. silver.wvu. Impartial evaluation—a feasibility analysis that is completely independent from technology vendors.usgs. ● EPA’s Web site for the EPA/DOE Mine Waste Technology Program: http://www. 3.edu/ ~agexten/landrec/land.● ● Identification of critical parameters—early deter­ mination of values for parameters that typically drive cost or effectiveness. The following publications provide additional informa­ tion on innovative acid mine drainage treatment technol­ ogies and a comprehensive summary of recent closure and bonding practices and related costs at hard-rock mines.epa. Includes clear overview of topics and reports on INAP-funded research.htm. ● International Network for Acid Prevention (INAP): http://www.unr.nwo.army.org /REPORTS/Hardrock%20Bonding%20Report. Geological Survey Toxic Substances Hy­ drology Program section on Hard-Rock Mining Contamination: http://toxics. Gives current technology updates on application of new treatment methods. ● The U.S. or physical isolation or diversion of water away from the mine waste. lead.focus/c/pub/i/1054/.unr. ● Australian Center for Mining Environmental Re­ search (ACMER): http://www. although many elements of source control and treatment also apply.com.S. ● EPA’s Web site for abandoned mine lands: http://www.com. 2000): http://www. Pit Lake Management: treated separately here due to the unique physical characteristics of lakes.nrcan. 2.mil/html/rams/rams.gov/topics/ minelands. respectively: ● “Acid Mine Drainage: Innovative Treatment Tech­ nologies. These criteria are covered to a lesser degree in this document than the tech­ nical criteria. 2003): http://clu-in.4 Resources for Additional Information Below are prominent organizations dedicated to research on the causes and remedies for management of drainage at hard-rock and coal mines: ● Mine Environment Neutral Drainage (MEND): http://www. and the management methods utilized will depend on the volume and environmental characteristics.inap. zinc. Army Corps of Engineers Restoration of Aban­ doned Mines Sites (RAMs) Western Region: https://www. 2006). While a large variety of metals are mined in the U.epa. 4. As such. cop­ per.gc.asp.gov/superfund/programs/aml/.edu/mines/adti/. there are common threads that are fundamental to water manage­ ment.acmer. Other feasibility study evaluation criteria that should be considered during the technology selection process are community and regulatory acceptance. but can have a great impact on the final selection.” by Christine Costello for the EPA (Costel­ lo. ● Acid Drainage Technology Initiative (ADTI): http://www. Source Control: typically the chemical stabilization of reactive rock.ca/mms/canmet-mtb/mmsl­ lmsm/mend/default_e.edu/ mines/ramstech/techintro. Focuses on acid drainage from coal sites.usace.au/. Engineering Issue 5 .htm#ACID..S. and molybdenum (USGS. 3. The range of contaminants that is released into water from one ore may be very different from another ore.gov/ minewastetechnology. Specific remedial technologies are divided into three categories: 1. Includes project summaries and documents for nine western states ● West Virginia University Extension Service Land Reclamation Program: http://www. However.pdf. html.au/.” by the Center for Science in the Public Interest for the National Wildlife Federa­ tion (Kuipers. nearly 90% of the value of metals (ex­ cluding iron ore) consists of a group including gold. ● U. and sufficient similarities exist that a generalized discussion is useful.

2003). Vegetation type is entirely site specific. 4. They have been found to minimize oxidation and release of contaminants. run-of-mine waste rock. with nutrients to enhance plant growth. so flow rates are related to precipitation.g.. have deep roots. is a par­ ticularly attractive cap material because it is typically read­ ily available and often strong enough to resist erosion on slopes. References are provided for sup­ porting information. as oxygen flux is approximately proportional to acid rock drainage (ARD) formation. However. Diffusive oxygen flux into waste rock facilities typically produces several kg sulfate/m2-yr for at least tens of years. critical pa­ rameters. Be­ nign waste rock. but have a very short life. Reducing or eliminating these flows through source control methods clearly has longterm benefits and should always be considered for deter­ mining the appropriate method for surface and ground water protection. 2000b).. treatment efficiency.1%. However. Source control can be applied to two broad categories of drainage waters: drainage from surface waste facilities and drainage from underground workings (e. Short of subaqueous disposal. Both are ultimately supplied by meteoric (precipitation runon/ runoff ) water.000 times greater than in water) allows rapid oxygen transport. the uncertainty of successful­ ly implementing source control and costs of preventing releases of contaminated water also needs to be evaluated as a component of the water quality management deci­ sion. examples of field-scale applications. Inhibition of oxygen is often cited also as a goal of mine waste caps. it can be applied to mine sites that have long been closed. Wet covers are facilities that maintain a permanent water body above reactive mine waste—a form of subaqueous storage. but seed mixtures typically focus on perennials that are efficient at extracting water.g. “a water cover alone leads to a reduction of approximately 99. Key information on the feasibility of each technology is also summarized in tables. other variables often make them impractical. and isolate acid-gen­ 6 Engineering Issue erating rock from the surface. a nu­ merical analysis study utilizing modeling concluded.. 2003). The goals are to minimize net percolation. This in­ cludes specific information on target analytes. “Store-and-release” caps are simply vegetated surface layers of material with a high moisture-retention capac­ ity that store water in the cap until it can be transpired or evaporated. such caps generally require perpetual management to ensure con­ tinued water saturation of the surface. support vegetation.1. shear strength (measured in a laboratory). These caps can dramatically reduce. no prac­ tical cap designs currently provide complete long-term barriers to oxygen. so total oxidation rates in mine waste facilities may be several times higher. even in semi-arid climates. and the high air diffusivity of oxygen (~10. adits).The descriptions of individual technologies under each category are intended to provide enough information to design a feasibility study at a particular site. However. In some cases. in the [sulfide] oxidation rate relative to uncov­ ered tailings” (Romano et al.. or waste rock amended to improve its performance (e.1 Capping and Revegetation for Source Control Capping and revegetation technologies seek to reduce or eliminate the flow of water and oxygen into surficial mine waste. with or without amendment. . and links to reliable Web pages are included throughout. with fine material or tailings to increase water retention.. and are consistent with post-reclamation land use. Although models indicate that water-saturated zones could be maintained. are drought resistant. surface waste facilities generally have a more lo­ cal response to rainfall and can be managed by appropriate caps. net percolation of water into mine waste. reduce erosion. source control needs to be considered early in the mine development. Selec­ tion criteria include moisture retention characteristics (measured directly or estimated from particle-size distri­ bution).. producing a corresponding decrease in the produc­ tion and transport of solutes out of these potential sourc­ es. and references for additional information.1 Source Control Treatment of contaminated mine waters is very often a long-term commitment. Void space in waste rock is typically 40% (Wil­ son et al. Suitable cap materials include topsoil. or with alkali reagents to offset acid-generating potential). in other cases. Oxygen-consuming layers (e. although not eliminate. 4. Measurements in­ side waste rock indicate that oxygen advection through coarse zones may be a larger oxygen source (Andrina et al.g. and resources will be required for the duration of the flows. while drainage from underground workings requires consideration of the regional ground water system. However. wood chips) are effective. and acid-generating potential (AGP) (chemical analysis). long-term oxygen exclusion has been demonstrated only with subaqueous disposal.

reduced ● “Design.. ing of Cover System for Waste Rock and Tailings. 2003): silicate mineral buffering and precipitation of sulfate salts.g. such favorable combinations material (can be estimated from particle-size distri­ have been found to be rare. While adit plugs can work well under favorable conditions of geology. as pore wa­ ters become more concentrated in slower-flowing waste Key Web Site References (Ritchie. Decreasing flow in mine waste does in ● Overview of dry covers for mine waste. precipitation.htm vironmental impacts from mine waste. The goal Characterization requirements for mine waste caps in­ is to retain the contaminated water in the underground clude the following: workings and allow the ground water table to rise. humidity. HELP for screening-level analy­ keep good-quality water away from reactive underground Engineering Issue 7 . five-volume design and monitoring walk-away designs. but with moisture retention high enough to is limited. If successful.21.ca/ms/canmet-mtb/mmsl-lmsm/mend/ waste (Wilson et al.. as well as the mine workings. available on­ fact allow more time for attenuation reactions. While ● Reclaimed vegetation mix (post-reclamation species release of contaminated water through new routes is often and their root depth and leaf area index) observed.nrcan. An umbrella design with sloping lay­ report (MEND Report 2. hydrol­ ● Moisture-retention characteristics of proposed cap ogy. drainage Design and analysis of store-and-release caps can be con­ patterns of surface and ground water can be altered to ducted with models (e. 2000a)—could shed water around mendpubs-e. Construction. Wilson the underground workings and plugging the drainage et al. 2003). This material has shear strength comparable can even change the hydrologic system.2 Plugging Drainage Sources and Interception of Drainage by Diversion Wells materials may limit its applicability on steep slopes.One important caveat for cap effectiveness is that reduc­ sis and SoilCover or Vadose/W for more refined analy­ ing net percolation in acid-generating material may delay sis—see the review by O’Kane and Barbour. curve) The implementability of this technology is highly site ● Hydraulic characteristics of cap (saturated hydraulic specific and requires an understanding of the hydrologic conductivity and soil water characteristic curve) system. http://www.au/completed_research_ so reducing net percolation may in many cases reduce en­ projects. 2003). long-term physical stability of blends. bution or determined more reliably with pressureplate laboratory hydraulic tests) Interception of ground water: In some cases. the costs tion. 2000b.com. complicated. but not the magnitude. including line at INAP (O’Kane Consultants. costs. 1994). Neither has been dem­ Plugging of drainage routes: Plugging of adits and onstrated in field-scale tests. further management of these sources can po­ ● Availability of suitable cover (waste rock. and mine development.htm net acid-generating rock (Barbour.inap. source control  3 to waste rock. and Performance Monitor­ infiltration is not a guarantee of reduced impacts. and they are not considered grouting of drainage pathways have sometimes been demonstrated to be effective in reducing the volume of further in this document. Potential draw­ backs are that this design still requires select handling of acid-generating rock and that low shear strength of fine 4. the onset of impacts. Two general ap­ maintain saturated conditions.” a Finally. approach also is coupled with the expectation that the lo­ potential evaporation.1. and insolation) cal ground water level will cover the underground work­ ings to prevent continued oxidation of the rock. two theoretical technologies potentially offer comprehensive. 2000). tail­ tentially cover the historic workings and reduce the con­ ings. and suitabil­ ity of such blends for revegetation. and limestone) taminant load in the water considerably. Sec­ ond is a tailing and waste rock blend design (~13 tailings and Because these systems often intercept ground water and 2 waste rock). and uncertain. contaminated water from underground mines. specific gravity. Atterburg limits. soil. Potential limits may include high blending routes from the underground workings. This ● Climate (daily temperature. ers of fine material—the most conductive in unsaturated gc.. providing a long-term bar­ proaches are often considered: interception of water from rier to oxygen introduction (Wilson et al. However.4): http://www. and ● Physical characteristics of cap (particle-size distribu­ assuming the adit plugs and grouting are stable.. compaction of treatment can consequently be substantially reduced.

and total acid-neutralizing potential (ANP). and resultant dewatering. precipitate most sulfate (as gypsum. and reducing flows that pass through underground workings. sim­ ple diversions via channels over areas of infiltration (e. assuming a 1:1 molar ratio of sulfide S (AGP) and carbonate C (ANP). Neutralizing typically much slower than reactions with carbonate. sulfidic mine waste that calcite can still leave sulfate concentrations greater than contains excess neutralizing potential can. or surface area. While almost always expensive. As a result. faults and slopes) can reduce the amount of contaminated water that is generated. Each case requires an extensive study of the hydrologic system and the associated contaminant source. Under oxidizing conditions. ABA is described using net-neutralizing po­ tential (NNP). can be less costly than water treatment. theoretically. Thus.12  molecular weight of CaCO3 / molecular weight of sulfur C(CaCO3)  Concentration carbonate carbon in sample (weight % C) 8. In this case. 4. Neutralization of sulfuric acid by sorption to surfaces. under certain circumstances. Such proposals have been developed for maintaining dry pits. water is drained away from reactive rock by drilling water conduits that change hydrologic gradi­ ents to limit the amount of water that rinses reactive rock.33) NNP  ANP  AGP Where S(FeS)  Concentration sulfide sulfur in sample (weight % S) 3. defined as ANP – AGP. other calcium sulfate compounds) and iron (as oxides or Pore water neutralized in-situ by calcite does not ensure sulfates). which is the total amount of acidity that would be pro­ duced if all sulfide in a material is completely oxidized. Additionally. 2H2O. In-situ acid neutralization technologies are based on the acid base accounting (ABA) of a material. or waste rock dumps to reduce the vol­ ume of contaminated water that is produced. in establish­ ing programs that require very long-term pumping.g. These techniques can potentially reduce or eliminate the need for water treatment.000 mg/L. and reduce dissolved trace metal by inducing ad­ perfect water quality. the contaminants in the underground workings will again be mobilized. ABA is typically calculated from analysis of sulfide S and carbonate C. allowing the flexibility to tailor testing to site con­ ditions and budgets. reducing flows of water from springs that exist under reactive waste rock dumps. Acid neutralization by silicate minerals is tralizing minerals. and minerals react in situ with acidic leachate to neutralize acid­ reaction rates depend strongly on pH. The first is to establish passive drainage systems that take advantage of el­ evation differences and ground water system opportuni­ ties.e. the convention in which ANP and AGP are converted to CaCO3 equivalents and reported in g CaCO3/kg rock (i. Unfortunately. it is necessary to recognize that if the pumping is discontinued and ground water flows return to the pre-pumping con­ dition. iron will pre­ weather into perpetuity without releasing acidic water. The ABA is the balance between total acid-generating potential (AGP). parts per thousand. In this case. The second is to establish in-perpetuity pumping programs to keep good-quality water from the reactive rock under­ ground workings.33  molecular weight of CaCO3 / molecular weight of carbon Basic silicate minerals may also contribute to ANP with The detrimental effects of sulfide oxidation in mine waste “silicate neutralization. and ity. Ground water diversions can po­ tentially involve two general techniques. In this document. particle size. cipitate from neutralized water. may increase the release of heavy metals from a negative geochemical effect.” consuming acidity in the process can be offset when the material contains excess acid-neu­ of dissolving. there are also several systems of ABA nomenclature in use.. with no clear stan­ dard emerging. such as calcite (CaCO3).. long-term pumping upgradient of the source area. ‰) is used. pits. There are numerous methods for analyzing for ABA. which is the amount of acid that could be consumed by neutralizing minerals. CaSO4 . Converting chemical analysis for sulfide S (S(FeS2)) and car­ bonate C (C(CaCO3)): AGP  S(FeS)  (10)  (3. For surface water. 2.workings.3 Prevention of Acid Drainage via Protective Neutralization control of net-acid – generating waste using the addition of neutralizing materials and identifies those factors most critical in assessing their feasibility.12) ANP  C(CaCO3)  (10)  (8.1. However. NNP has units of ‰ CaCO3 and is negative for net acid-generating material and positive for net-neutralizing material. these types of pumping systems. forming hydroxide and This section describes the technologies for in-situ source sulfate minerals that are effective adsorption substrates for 8 Engineering Issue . wells are drilled upgradi­ ent of reactive rock surfaces to lower the water table to reduce the contaminant load in the surface or ground wa­ ter.

Lime and limestone are the most commonly used amend­ ment materials. Net acid-generating test (NAG) (Miller et al. and other attenuation processes are considered can.trace metals. (Source: Exponent. Sobek titration method (Sobek et al. However. but trace metals in pore water may remain above remedial goals. with low rates being ~108 kgO2/m3  s and high rates being ~106 kgO2/m3  s (Bennett. This is a rapid method that requires sophisticated equipment but relatively little labor. 2003). contaminated acidic water can begin to drain from these sites long into the future. The dominant analytical methods for acid/base account­ ing in mine waste. where acid production can con­ generate a representative sample of the target material and tinue after the lime is leached out. based on titration of samples to determine acid and base concentrations directly. Lime—in both the processed (CaO) and hydrated [Ca(OH)2] forms—is more soluble and reacts more rapidly than calcite [i. in order of increasing complexity. but it is generally regarded as the most reliable indicator of long-term acid release potential.. Lime amend­ ment of acid-generating waste when mixing. These results indicate that when there is an excess of naturally occurring carbonate minerals in mine waste.5) or net acidneutralizing (pH  4. produce mine waste that meets ex­ posure-point water quality standards. However. Thus. (2) conducting chemical analysis that accurately indicates material ABA. 2000) solubility. A separate comparison of 307 samples from nine hard-rock mines found similar results—NNP (using car­ bonate carbon for ANP) was a reliable predictor of ac­ tual acid release under simulated weathering conditions (see Figure 4-1). NNP  0) that produced acidic leachate (Morin et al.. due to their high vs. A 1989 guidance document (SRK. the variability in the ABA of the material. the neutralizing reactions gener­ ally keep pace with the acid production. 1998). The number of samples required to adequately define the distribution of acid/base accounting in mine waste de­ pends on the size of the unit targeted for treatment. can be conducted in simple field laboratories.. A review of 281 kinet­ ic tests (various humidity cell and column tests from 53 different mines) found no net-neutralizing samples (i. studies find that ANP is generally a good in­ dicator of long-term acid release. final humidity cell pH. lime amendments can be washed quickly from Estimating the acid/base accounting of mine waste has waste rock.e.e. with 10-fold to 1. thus limiting their long-term effectiveness in two components: (1) obtaining sufficient sampling to unsaturated conditions. 1997). are: 1. Humidity cell results from nine hard-rock mines: NNP (Evangelou and Zhang. This is the simplest ABA analysis. and can be modified slightly to yield more quantitative information or excess AGP. then noting the pH after reaction as an indicator of whether the material is net-acid generating (pH  4. 1978).000­ fold reductions in concentration common.. dispersion. 3. When large waste rock or tailings facilities are targeted for treat­ ment. solute reductions upon neutralization can be dramatic.. 1995). However. and is thus considered to be more effective in controlling ARD Figure 4-1. oxidation rate under atmospheric conditions).5). It is rapid and inexpensive.e. if lime is consumed prior to exhausting the acid-generating capac­ ity or is inefficiently mixed. geostatistical analysis may be warranted to identify spatial correlations in ABA. Leco furnace method (ASTM. Fortunately. Acid production rates in sulfidic mine waste vary enormously with intrinsic oxidation rates (i. reacting a sample with hydrogen peroxide to completely oxidize all sulfide minerals. 1989) is one of the few references to recommend a fixed number of ABA samples based on the size of each geologic unit. an effective waste Engineering Issue 9 . 1995). limestone (CaCO3)]. under favorable conditions. Results of this method are generally consistent with comparison tests using long-term kinetic tests. It is labor intensive and thus generally more expensive to conduct than the two methods previously described.. This is the original ABA analytical method. 2. and the desired ac­ curacy.

Cost considerations are listed below. 1994) Further.e. where oxidation will dramatically slow after emplacement of the waste.2. torical coal mining sites: 1. However.): $US0. Limestone (crushed to  2 mm. 3.50/tonne prevent ARD formation (Mehling et al. mixing at less than complete taken from successful waste rock blending schemes at his­ homogenization can allow acid production. the Laboratory and field-scale studies demonstrate that the ef­ amount of excess neutralization capacity required to en­ fectiveness of mine waste amendment is affected primarily sure pH-neutral effluent varies from site to site. where long-term maintenance is required. . neutralization-blending tests is likely to be a cause of concern for the scientific community and possibly for experienced representatives in industry and the regulatory community.2 (i. ANP:AGP ratio  1. 1994. a safety factor of 1. However. Specifically. Cravotta et al. depending on source and haulage: which can be amended by surface application followed by ● Hydrated lime: $60–140/tonne ripping to mix at depth (may be amenable when vegeta­ tion of acid-generating waste is considered). While oxygen diffusion is slowed.S. In practice. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) guidelines set this criterion at 300% 10 Engineering Issue for mine waste. Safety factor for neutralized waste: Excavation of large waste rock and tailings and use of ● ANP greater than 20 ‰ CaCO3 (BLM. the rate of contaminant release will depend on this rate of oxygen penetration to the reactive surfaces. regulatory guidelines for classify­ ing waste as non–acid generating also vary widely. energy costs. greater than approximately 2 mm in diameter are significantly 2. and other specific requirements at a site. (1997) summarized three wide-ranging guidelines izing materials.. based on availability of raw materials. costs only): Field-scale tests indicate that mixing neutralizing minerals ● Complete mixing (Grizzly to separate waste rock and with acid-generating waste may need to be nearly ideal to pug mill to mix): $US0. it is usually not completely eliminated. many states have guidance on ABA requirements Not surprisingly.e.rock amendment strategy would be to use calcite for the cap.. Field. amendment is generally con­ ● Mined and crushed from on-site source at operating mine: $US2–3/tonne sidered for mine waste that (1) can be treated as it is being excavated. ANP/AGP  2 (Day. and (3) is to ● Lime (CaO): $80–$240/tonne be moved for additional purposes. 1996) amendment to ensure perpetual in-situ ARD neutral­ ● ANP/AGP  1. NNP  80 ‰ CaCO3 (Erickson and Hedlin. excess ANP (i. suggesting that blending programs are generally accepted. the failure of several field­ scale.75–1. Following are a few (Brady et al.and large-scale test plots indicate that there tonne-treated rock may need to be as much as a 100% excess of amendment to ensure perpetual acid neutralization. However. a safety factor of 3. These costs are esti­ mates based on current quoted costs in 2005. 1990). potential) including perpetual collection and treatment of acidic Cost to mix amendments into waste rock (mixing seepage.. (2) is near the surface ( 1 to 2 meters deep). the costs will vary. and CaO or Ca(OH)2 for subaqueous waste. 1990)]. Amendment rates should exceed those estimated solely on the basis of an Performance Data ABA (Day. 1988) neutralizing amendments.04–0. 1996). Lime. 1990) studies from the literature that illustrate these conclusions..e. 1997) and that ● Surface mixing by ripping in amendment with neutralizing amendments should be 2 mm in diameter or bulldozer (maximum depth ~6 ft.06/ smaller. particularly limestone. assuming local source): Mine waste amendment is suitable for any materials that ● Delivered from off-site source: $US30–50/tonne can be accessed and subjected to complete mixing with the amendment.2:1 (NDEP.. 20% excess-neutralizing ization is often more expensive than other alternatives. NNP  10 ‰ CaCO3 and ANP  15 ‰ CaCO3 less effective at neutralizing acidity. Mehling by the mixing efficiency and the particle size of neutral­ et al. variable. ANP:AGP  3) and also suggest an ANP greater than 20 ‰ CaCO3 (BLM. U.. and in most cases. Two cases of mixed success are presented in the following table. Some state guidelines consider waste to be non–acid generat­ ing without additional kinetic testing if it has 20 percent excess neutralizing capacity [i. followed by migration of acidic leachate in preferential flow paths.

Two-year duration.gov/minewastetechnology/). with a solution of silica. Potassium permanganate: Pyritic surfaces are first can vary dramatically. How long will be prohibitively expensive on a large scale. and the methods used to treat those rinsed with a solution of lime. 1997) Experimental Design Field-scale horizontal layers of acid-generating waste rock. tech­ or eliminate oxidation of the rock and thus reduce or elim­ nology selection factors.. It encapsulates metals in an impervious microscopic silica matrix and prevents additional acid generation or metals migration. manganese/iron/magnesium surface formed is ● Acidic water (pH  5.g. Chemical neutralization consumption and sludge 3.2 Treatment of Contaminated Water technologies are examples that are being investigated: As discussed previously. The tween the groups is sometimes not clear. or does the entire ers. that resist hydrolysis and prevent further oxidation. The future utiliza­ Experimental Field-scale test constructed with 10-cm thick tion of these methods for waste rock requires consideration Design horizontal layers of acid-generating waste rock of the following: with net-neutralizing rock to achieve an ANP/ ● Hydrologic characteristics of the waste rock: For AGP ratio of 1. BC (Mehling et al. but not from the (or near-complete) coverage of the reactive surfaces net-neutralizing material. 1996. Cost analyses of com­ ● Longevity: Each type of coating is thin.. This technology has been utilized previously for metalscontaminated soils. 1997) nology Program has examined these technologies (http:// and Location www. Hydraulic short-circuiting was cit­ ed as the probable cause of failure of a waste rock amendment scheme. pre-existing waste rock dumps.4 Passivation of Sulfidic Rock change the cost of these treatments? How do these costs compare to conventional water treatment (e. followed can be put in three groups. While the treated rock. Silica Micro Encapsulation (SME): KEECO has management are large factors for selecting a treat­ a patented process that treats acid-generating rock ment method. This “passivation” has the potential to reduce source control technologies covered in this section. These technologies are being tested at several sites. the most prob­ 2. emerging technologies have been exam­ lime precipitation)? ined that are designed to limit the release of acidic com­ ponents by forming a thin protective layer on the reactive Table 4-1 on pages 12 and 13 provides an overview of the rock surface. sodium hydroxide. how can complete Results Partial success. with ARD released from netacid – generating comparison. mine waters and magnesium oxide at a pH  12. and the plete blending suggested that this method might reactive bulk rock remains reactive. For this discussion. waters will similarly vary. waters draining from mine sites 1. (Continued on page 14) Engineering Issue 11 . Each of the technologies examined utilizes liquids that can be applied to pit walls or reactive waste rock. However.5): Most commonly. Ecobond™: MT2 (http://www.. The lems with acidic waters. Results The waste rock pile produced acidic leachate despite being amended to obtain a three-fold excess ANP. these resistant to further oxidation and substantially waters are contaminated as a result of pyrite oxida­ reduces the amount of acidic water draining from tion and contain elevated metals and sulfate. Mehling et al.metalstt. but their efficacy has not been thoroughly established. In recent years.com) uses a lematic waters are those with a pH  4 since metals phosphate-based solution to coat acid-generating rock loadings increase substantially. Because of the prob­ to form a stable. projections be ensured? Is it sufficient to treat the top of the indicate that ARD was likely from amended lay­ waste rock dump (1–5 meters).Site Name and Location Samatosum Mine in south-central BC (Morin and Hutt.1. NNP/ANP ratio of 3.1. leading to the conclusion that blending was waste rock dump require treatment? not effective for preventing ARD in material with an ANP:AGP of only 1. The EPA/DOE (Department of Energy) Mine Waste Tech­ Site Name Kutcho Creek Project. inate release of contaminants from the rock. insoluble coating on the surface. and limitations.1. extensive research has been technology forms stable iron phosphate complexes conducted on cost-effective methods of treatment.epa. although the distinction be­ by treatment with potassium permanganate. The following three 4. these coatings prevent release of contaminants? ● Cost: What are the site characteristics that will 4. any water with a pH  7 is acidic.

) A “Store and Release Cap” retains meteoric wa­ ter long enough for plants to uptake and transpire the water. • Not commonly un­ • Effectiveness is de­ while an effective dertaken due to dif­ pendent on the abil­ drainage system ficulties in obtaining ity to control water can be highly cost a full understanding in the underground effective of the hydrologic and surface water system systems • Effectiveness depends on the ability to control water. either topsoil. but has not been demonstrated for longterm applications Wet Covers Storage of acid-generating rock and tailings under water to prevent (or minimize) oxidation and release of contaminants All Will generally reduce oxidation rates of reactive rock Highly variable..e. either by plugging or draining the adits • This method. Rerouting surface water around surface or underground disturbanc­ es is also sometimes an option. while it al­ ways should be considered. Water and/or oxygen reaction with surfaces is minimized.. minimiz­ ing the “net percolation” (i.e. non-acid gen­ erating.. Source Control Technologies for Hard-Rock Mine Waste Technology Name Technology Description Target Analytes Critical Feasibility Factors Implementabilty Effectiveness Cost Important Limitations Engineering Issue Capping and Revegetation Cover waste rock or tailings with suitable growth medium and estab­ lish vegetation. is not often successful • Plugging of underground workings has resulted in blowouts of the plugs in certain cases . (“Suitable” means soil. or by pumping ground water. capillary breaks) have finite life • Oxygen barrier to perma­ nently stop ARD pro­ duction is theoretically possible. low met­ als. may be thinner in wetter climates) • Life expectancy of cap • A zero-net-percolation cap has not been demonstrated • Precipitation as snow greatly increases net percolation • In acid-generating waste. (No specific chemical reactions. waste rock. but may not reduce contaminant load rate • Highly engineered caps (e. or mixture of these • Need to possibly amend cap with neutralizing agent or nutrients • Cap thickness (at least 1 m in semi­ arid climate to sustain plants.12 Table 4-1. or blend of these materials that is non-acid generating and contains heavy metals below levels that are phyto­ toxic or that may cause ecological or human health risk. liners. tailings. reduced flow delays im­ pact.g. high moisture retention) • Access to slopes for seeding and grading • Commonly per­ formed. Can be utilized when reactive rock can be submerged in a per­ manent water body. the flux of water from the cap into the waste) and associated rate that solutes in waste are flushed out. with often good but variable results • Moisture retention capacity of cap material • Cap thickness • Potential for metals uptake from cap by plants (affects ecological risk) • Fire frequency • Fraction of precipi­ tation as snow • Availability of local cap material. de­ pending on the avail­ ability of water and site-specific considerations • Requires in-perpetuity coverage of the reactive rock and management of the water body • Previously oxidized rock surfaces may still release problematic contaminants Hydrologic Controls Drainage is controlled by direct­ All ing water flow from reactive rock surfaces. A second option is to plug adits and shafts to allow water to fill under­ ground workings and cover reac­ tive surfaces.) All soluble • Stability of waste or constituents cap to slope failure in the solid and erosion waste • Availability of suit­ able cap material (i. including a perma­ nent tailings facility pit lake or flooding underground workings • Requires an un­ • Elimination of water • Highly variable derstanding of the from the reactive depending on site­ hydrologic system surfaces can ef­ specific factors surrounding the fectively stop acidic • Long-term pump­ reactive rock drainage ing has O/M costs. by diverting ground water flows. benign waste rock or tail­ ings.

primarily pyrite. for blending in acidity. Pb. depending on the technology utilized and the need for periodic treatment Full passivation of waste rock dumps is difficult. Application methods vary.5 – 2 m depth–typical root-zone depth for cap only treatment) or added to new waste and mixed during emplacement. but usually involve coating rock surface with fluids and allowing the specific passivation reaction to occur. Heavy metal • Access to all acidcations generating waste (e.000 mg/L) sufficient access and slope to permit distribution and mixing of neutralizing amendment into near-surface (~2 m depth) • Ability to uniformly blend neutralizing agents with acidgenerating waste • Crushing neutralizing agents small enough to ensure reaction (e. 3 crushed calcite [CaCO ] or lime [CaO]. crush...g. Zn).g.Table 4-1. it is not economic to excavate and amend existing buried waste • Layering or sequential placement of neutralizing waste with acidgenerating waste often does not stop acid release Passivation Reduces or halts the oxidation of reactive surfaces. Amendments can be applied surficially to existing waste and mixed (~0. Acidity and soluble constituents in the solid waste Unknown. 2 mm) • Availability of local source of limestone or other neutralizing agent • Cost to mine. neutralizing agents sulfate • Stability of slope (pore water during blending reduced • For cap to ~1. Requires further investigation. 2. These technologies are still in a research and demonstration mode.g. Laboratory and pilotscale treatments show promise for the various treatments. rock targeted Cd.500 amendment. but full-scale applications have not been undertaken. and deliver neutralizing agent (ideally 2 mm diameter for blending) • Cost to spread and mix neutralizing agent into cap • For existing waste. alkaline industrial wastes). The effectiveness of passivation remains to be established. due to the problems with delivering fluids in such a way that all surfaces are contacted. Also unknown is the longevity of these treatments. Cu. cost to excavate and uniformly amend • Surficial amendment of acid-generating waste does not stop ARD production below the cap • Typically. Source Control Technologies for Hard-Rock Mine Waste (continued) Technology Name Technology Description Target Analytes Critical Feasibility Factors Implementabilty Effectiveness Cost Important Limitations Engineering Issue Acid Potential Neutralization Waste rock or tailings that are net acid-generating are amended with neutralizing agents (e. producing waste that will remain permanently net neutralizing.. The costs need to be evaluated against the probability of longterm treatment using more conventional methods. Costs are highly variable. 13 .

treatment of acidic drainage tive in raising the pH. or arsenic..g. Calcium will also ultimately mine-related drainage water.2.wvu. Lime (quicklime) Calcium oxide Ca0 0. less caustic alternative to sodium hydroxide. closed precious metals heaps. or nickel). Requires slaker to convert to hydrated lime.56 Also commonly utilized. causes soil structure to collapse (sodic soils). Neutralizing efficiency of 90%.8 Does not remove sulfate effectively and increases sodium content of treated water. Ammonia has also been utilized for treatment of coal mine waters.1 Treatment of Acidic Waters the ability of calcium to remove sulfate as calcium sulfate Acidic water is generally considered the most problematic compounds (e. copper. Requires control to maintain suspension. which are precipitated as hydroxides. Table 4-2. treatment of coal mine waters has been extensively examined in the past 25 years (http://www. The literature on treatment of drainage from coal mines has examined the various types of neutralizing agents in detail. and although differences exist between coal and hard-rock mine waters. and pit lakes. Alterna­ prevention of acid drainage is a common goal for manage­ tively. 14 Engineering Issue . Soda ash Sodium carbonate Na2CO3 1. and it offers the greatest po­ precipitate as calcite when the water is equilibrated with tential for degradation of surface and ground water. Five chemicals that have commonly been used for treatment of acidic water are listed in Table 4-2.000 mg/L. Neutralizing Reagents for Treatment of Acidic Water from Mines (Source: Modified from Skousen in http://www.htm). The estimated tons of acid/year can be multiplied by the conversion factor to get the tons of chemical needed for neutralization.edu/~agexten/landrec/chemtrt. While carbon dioxide in air if the pH is slightly elevated.g.g. but is uncommon for treatment of hard-rock mine waters and will not be considered further here. Does not remove sulfate effectively.and sodium-based systems. the calciumbased systems are generally preferable to sodium due to 4. lime is generally less expensive than either sodium carbonate or sodium hydroxide. This leaves two general types of neutralization agents. Of these.74 Relatively inexpensive chemical cost and most utilized form of lime as a slurry.htm. but difficult to dissolve—tends to armor and reduce effectiveness. these are commonly associated with process fluids. Utilization of only 30% of neutralizing capability. Sulfate concentrations are generally less than 2. Neutralizing efficiency of 90%. Common examples are drainage from carbonate-hosted waste rock dumps. Increases sodium content of treated water. oxyanions. the pH of these waters is reduced when atmospheric carbon dioxide dissolves. * The conversion factor is the relative amount of weight of each material (compared to limestone) to neutralize a given amount of acid. particu­ larly when handled in bulk. Caustic soda Sodium hydroxide NaOH 0.) Formula Conversion Factor* Common Name Chemical Name Comments Limestone Calcium carbonate CaCO3 1. which will subsequently reduce the solubility of a variety of contaminants in the drainage water.● ● Near-neutral water (pH 5.. Neutralizing efficiency of 60%. while sodium-based neutralization agents are effec­ ment of acid-generating rock. The solubility of a variety of oxyanions can be enhanced at alkaline pH.. gypsum). elevated sodium in irrigation water at many mine sites will be required far into the future. Also. zinc.edu/~agexten/landrec/ chemtrt. sodium cyanide plus lime). antimony and selenium. Alkaline water (pH  9): With few exceptions. although more effort is required to maintain a suspension. This is especial­ ly true for the divalent metals and aluminum.wvu.5–9): These waters are common at many non-acid – generating sites. Neutralizing efficiency of 100%.06 Dissolves rapidly. but may contain elevated concentrations of certain metals (e. partic­ ularly those with high net neutralization in the waste rock. but most focus on increasing the pH to above pH 7. the cal­ cium. Methods for treatment of acidic drainage vary consider­ ably. and the elevated pH is due to chemical reagent addi­ tion (e. particu­ larly at the higher pH ranges.0 Inexpensive chemical cost. Hydrated lime Calcium hydroxide Ca(OH)2 0. Over time.

Sb.gov/Cost. agitation of the suspension and addition of flocculants allows the metal oxide solids to settle out by growth of precipitants to suf­ ficiently large particles to form sludge. Cu. reaction vessels. including Cr. “conventional wa­ ter treatment” refers to fixed facilities of pipes. 2003 for summary of methods for treating sulfate in water.000 mg/L due to the relatively low solubility of gypsum (calcium sulfate). Mixing of the acidic water with lime slurries requires aeration to ensure good contact with atmospheric oxygen. metering pumps. Not only does this treat­ ment raise the pH in a cost-effective manner. clarifiers. and U. Most con­ ventional treatment systems utilize a stirred aeration basin to accomplish this oxidation (see Figure 4-2). Ferric ox­ ide rapidly precipitates at neutral or alkaline pH. Zn.) For this discussion. Ni. Conventional water treatment utilizing lime. A relatively new method for oxidation uses the Rotating Cylinder Treatment System (RCTS) to provide rapid oxy­ gen transfer to the solution and efficient utilization of the lime slurry (http://www. and solid management mechanical fixtures (e.. Clear water pump Sump Electrical panel Slurry mixer Flash mixer Acid water Volumetric screw feeder pH probe Aerator Blower pH probe Slurry mix tank Distribution trough Weir plates Flash tank Aeration basin Thickener or settling pond Figure 4-2.1 Conventional Physical/Chemical Treatment of Acidic Water Using Lime Use of lime (calcium hydroxide or calcium oxide) for neu­ tralization is the accepted conventional water treatment for most hard-rock mine acidic waters. filter presses).com). Following oxidation and neutralization. it also reduc­ es the sulfate concentrations to below 2. (Source: http://amd. can also be substantially reduced by the co-precipitation with the metal hydroxide. The sludge pro­ duced is generally of low density and requires thickening or filter presses to decrease the water content. The dissolved concentrations of the oxyanions. Fe. Pb. and Mn as metal hydroxides.osmre. Lime is mixed with acidic water as a 10–15% slurry that is most com­ monly generated on site from a storage tank of hydrated lime using a slurry mixer.1. particularly when the acidity and/or flows are high.g. Conventional acidic water treatment using alkaline sourc­ es is used for removal of Al. Addition­ ally.iwtechnologies. Se. As. Mo. (See INAP.2.pdf) Engineering Issue 15 . management of the sludge generally requires a de- Turbulence box Bin vent filter High level sensor Re-order sensor Storage Tank Pneumatic fill line Low level Slide gate valve Bin discharger SCR controller Oxidation of soluble ferrous iron to ferric iron is required for treatment of most mineral acidic waters and utilizes atmospheric oxygen at an elevated pH  7.4. Cd. The RCTS uses shallow trough-like cells to contain the impacted wa­ ters and rotating perforated cylinders for improved atmo­ spheric oxygen transfer and improved agitation during treatment of the water.

engineering. htm#Chemical. economics. access may be difficult and expensive during the inal design are often performed to meet target discharge winter months.ca/mms/ on an annual operating and maintenance basis. Each treatment alternative needs to be evaluated relative to the total costs and intended characteristic of Because of the wide range of flows. Thus. However. as well as the implementation of a treatment system at a specific location.pdf.gov/Cost. Comparison of costs of treatment at different flows (using reagent costs in 1996) is avail­ able at http://www. Addition­ ● Britannia Mine Water Treatment Plant Feasibility ally. this example provides an in­ dication of the non-linear cost differences with differing flows. the length of time for each type of reaction. However. The Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP) is usually used to determine if a material is Re­ source Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) – haz­ ardous due to its leaching characteristics. control. An example of a feasibility study for a site- tems that require routine maintenance. it is difficult to provide a reliable estimate for treatment tion. prevention. and ● The MEND manual is a set of comprehensive work­ reagent costs. and a conventional lime treatment system requirements and to optimize operations to reduce costs may not be appropriate. and lime treatment is generally the most cost-effective method for treating large volumes of acidic drainage from mines.leo. and the Office of Sur­ same approach can be used for estimating costs for treat­ face Mining (OSM) Reclamation and Enforcement: ment of acidic drainage from hard-rock mines.S. In remote areas of the west­ system. http://www. The Synthetic Precipitation Leaching Procedure (SPLP) is a better indi­ cator of leaching behavior under natural environmental conditions. estimates for treatment cost vary from tion on chemistry. operatively by the Pennsylvania Department of Envi­ osmre. ● Overview of chemicals available to treat AMD: http://www. The costs for construction of active lime treatment facili­ Key Web Site References ties can be substantial due to the requirements of power. as flows increase (e. While the reagent costs change with time and location. and sludge manage­ amd/links/chem1. on site or off site.termination of its contaminant leachability to decide whether the sludge can be managed on-site or needs to be transported to an off-site hazardous waste management facility. the method of settling or filtering out the solids from the wa­ Using an engineered system of conventional water treat­ ter. as well as other factors. ings increase.parliament. lime addition systems.pdf scaling problems common with the use of lime. and monitoring at a specific site until a careful engineering estimate is de­ of acidic drainage. remoteness. flows. a power supply. required. Because http://amd. ment requires proper road access. case stud­ less than $1/1. treatment. of a lime treatment plant has inherent fixed construction bc.000 gallons to well over $10/1. tanks. and manpower.ca/clad/britannia/downloads/reports/tech_ and operation/maintenance costs that make these treat­ reports/WTP_feasibility. and scientific data.. The document provides informa­ veloped.html ment equipment.pdf ). the fixed costs become a smaller fraction of the total cost. stable site-specific information is required for the design of each land area. the of Environmental Protection.gov/ the characteristics of water quality. State regulations also apply to how sludge is managed.edu/~agexten/landrec/chemtrt. operation specific conventional system: http://www. ment systems expensive on a cost per volume of water treated when the flows are low.osmre.  100 gal/min) or the acidity and metals load­ 16 Engineering Issue . can vary substantial­ ing references for the sampling and analyses. An example of such guidelines is one devel­ ● AMD abatement cost-estimating tool developed co­ oped by the Office of Surface Mining (2000) (http://amd. canmet-mtb/mmsl-lmsm/mend/mendmanual-e. or volume of residual (sludge) produced. Several organizations have developed guidelines.agf. Shakedown operations and modifications of orig­ ern U. predic­ ly.nrcan.gc.g. these active systems utilize pumps and mixing sys­ Study. these systems still require fre­ http://www. and the method for residual (sludge) management.htm While the newer designs for lime treatment systems are ● UK summary of active and passive treatment: increasingly automated. the West Virginia Department costs for treatment of acidic drainage from coal mines.uk/commons/lib/research/ quent monitoring and oversight due to the caking and rp99/rp99-010.lehigh.gov..000 gallons ies.edu/envirosci/enviroissue/ pumps. While this document is focused on ronmental Protection.wvu. the amount of lime the effluent water.

Mn.army. Se. Zn. As.bc. Shake­ down operations and modifications of original design are often performed to meet target discharge concentrations and to optimize operations to reduce costs or the volume of residual (sludge) produced. A wealth of in­ formation about neutralizing acidic water with lime: http://www. Ni. Due to the relative larger size of information is critical for design of these systems because ponds and lagoons than most conventional treatments. com/swatara/Cravotta. or excavated areas are available for use.htm National Lime Association Web site. While the primary neutralization of the acidic drainage is through lime addition. the oxyanions are reduced in dissolved concentrations by co-precipita­ tion with metal oxides and calcite. the method of settling or filtering out the solids from the water.edu/kirby/RCr. Pb. tailing can make ponds or lagoons less expensive than clarifi­ ponds.usace. the amount of lime required. Engineering Issue 17 . Site-specific ers and reaction vessels. Montana. metalloids. Removals at a treatment lagoon in Butte. Lime (calcium hydroxide) is added using the same type of equipment that is used in conventional plants. Mo. Sb.● ● 0 r. the ponds and lagoons can improve the overall water treatment and met­ als reduction by the photosynthetic activity in the water The construction cost for physical/chemical treatment in (see Figure 4-3). Depending on the water chemistry. and solids accumulation has the benefits of exploiting natural processes. and uranium from mine waters when designed to account for variations in flow and composi­ tion. Physical/chemical treatment in alkaline ponds and la­ goons is used to remove metals. 0 Heavy dashed lines show underground flow or pumping path Diversion structure and spillway Figure 4-3.bucknell. and the method for residual (sludge) management.org Army Corps of Engineers document “Engineering and Design: Precipitation/Coagulation/Flocculation”: http://www.agf.facstaff.mbcomp. Cu. site-specific factors often easier to construct if existing settling ponds. alkaline ponds and lagoons is usually similar to the addi­ A larger area of land is needed for physical/chemical treat­ tional chemical components of a conventional treatment.mil/inet/usace-docs/eng-man­ uals/em1110-1-4012/toc. Alkaline ponds and lagoons have been used to effectively remove metals.lime. ment in alkaline ponds and lagoons than for conventional Due to land availability and status of land relative to the treatment plants. settling.2. Cd. Formation of metal hydroxide precipitates and formation of calcium carbon­ ate with flux from the atmosphere result in solids settling out in the ponds. and U. including Al. Fe.gov.amrclearinghouse. Pond or lagoon treatment systems are hydraulic profile of proposed system.org/Sub/ AMDtreatment/ZZTreatmentStrategies.pdf Abandoned mine remediation clearinghouse for treatment of acidic drainage in Pennsylvania: http://www.htm 150 100 km Miles N Polishing pond 2 Sludge holding ponds Old stream channel (now for overflow) Polishing pond 1 Thickener Press filter Aeration tanks Point of lime addidtion Clarifiers 4.ca/clad/britannia/reports. Using ponds and lagoons for aera­ tion.1. and the oxyanions Cr. the length of time for each type of reaction. are presented in Table 4-3. Use of aeration ponds for polishing lime treatment pro­ cess.html Detecting change in water quality from implementa­ tion of limestone treatment systems in a coal-mined watershed of Pennsylvania: http://www.html) of the wide range of flows. ● C ch us ● Pennsylvania Flow direction Ra ● Example of evaluating options for sludge manage­ ment for a conventional water treatment system: http://www.2 Physical/Chemical Treatment in Alkaline Ponds and Lagoons Physical/chemical treatment in alkaline ponds and lagoons is very similar to conventional treatment as described in the preceding section. (Source: http://www. and a photograph of the polish­ ing pond is shown in Figure 4-4 on the next page.

This system was initially de­ veloped for small flows from coal mines of high acidity because calcium oxide is very reactive. although additional testing is warrant­ ed.pdf Removed (ppb) (ppb) Total Ag 5 5 Detection Limit Total Al 155 34 78% Total As 35 7 80% Total Cd 15 0. Jenkins and Skousen (1993) have Total Zn 4.htm additional advantage of using alkaline ponds and lagoons ● Pictures of a lime lagoon at Leviathan Mine. Influent and Effluent Concentrations for Treatment while a lined pond is used for settling and polishing: Lagoon in Butte. Table 4-3.478 72 97% a controlled and efficient manner requires lime addition Total Pb 6 1 Detection Limit technology that increases the fixed costs and is often infea­ sible for small streams.epa. Filter bags are used to capture and manage the majority of the sludge. One these systems can be operated without intensive manage­ additional advantage of a lagoon system is the attractive­ ment.htm). which corrects fornia. the features need to be weighed against metals bioavailability amount of chemical utilized is controlled by a water wheel attached to a screw feeder that dispenses lime directly into and insect breeding issues. stable land area.2. ● Silver Bow Creek/Warm Springs Ponds One-Page Smaller systems can be designed with cleanout and sludge Summary: http://www.3 98% Total Cr 11 10 Detection Limit Total Cu 388 15 96% Total Fe 1. These systems have re­ ceived only limited applicability at hard-rock mine sites in the western U. The concept is that cess.S. landrec/chemtrt.gov/superfund/programs/ management at frequencies of a few years to decades. Final pond in the treatment lagoons in Butte.epa.526 107 98% shown the utility of an Aquafix pebble quicklime (CaO) Using an engineered system of physical/chemical water water treatment system that utilizes a water wheel con­ treatment in ponds and lagoons requires proper road ac­ cept for coal mine drainage waters. addition of lime to acidic water in Total Mn 2. a power supply. Recently. for Year 2003 http://yosemite.edu/~agexten/ used for polishing and robustness of system. An recycle/success/1-pagers/bowcrk.nsf/0/ Untreated Treated 75c4f97d7640242488256e98006656ab/$FILE/Le­ % Basis Analyte Concentration Concentration viathan_04%20p7-22. Controlling the rate of application of the quicklime without operator attendance and problems with remote cold weather operation have somewhat limited the inter­ est for many mineral mine sites. although these by the flow rate of the acidic stream. the flowing acidic drainage. the costs of treating lower flows on a per-gallon basis can potentially be reduced using alter­ native neutralization methods in certain cases.499 41 97% 4. and manpower. Montana.gov/r9/sfund/sphotos. which has no biological component due to minor process upsets or variations. For this system..fewer operator hours are required to account for system Key Web Site References and Pictures variations and to physically manage solids produced. however. Montana.3 Low-Flow/Low-Acidity Chemical Treatment Options While conventional lime treatment has distinct cost and treatment advantages.wvu. metals-laden precipitates (http://www. 18 Engineering Issue .1. limited size of the pilot project. These systems also may require settling basins and sludge management for the Figure 4-4. Examples include the following: Automatic lime addition using an Aquafix system: As discussed previously. and the rate of addition of lime can be controlled ness and wildlife attributes of a wetland. water wheels have been attached to large bins or silos for high-flow/high-acidity situations. Cali­ is the buffering capacity of the lagoons.

Temperature changes can also affect the amount of delivered alkalinity. For example. except the limestone is buried under a cap and designed to exclude oxygen and reduce the amount of iron oxidation prod­ ucts that coat the limestone. and the applicability may be limited to iron-free. Sodium increases in the treated water are also an issue.gov/pubs/yir/yir2000/ pages/07_new_horizons/07_02_reeder. Depending on the re­ quirements.htm). The downside to using these systems is that if the limestone becomes armored.dep. Because acidic drainage from hard-rock sites often contains appreciable amounts of aluminum that coat the limestone.. Limestone treatment is generally not effec­ tive for acidities exceeding 50 mg/L (http://www.html). Neutral and alkaline drainage from mine sites is gener­ ally less of a water quality problem than acidic drainage since the solubility of many of the problematic metals is low at neutral or alkaline pH. Settling basins may be used under certain conditions to collect precipitates. limestone channels have not been shown to be successful. although the cost of sodium hydroxide is higher than a similar amount of calcium-based neutraliza­ tion agents. uncovering the limestone requires excavation of the cap. Because of the armor­ ing that occurs. 4.2 Treatment of Neutral and Alkaline Waters Contaminated neutral or alkaline mine drainage waters are present at sites that have sufficient neutralization (gen­ erally from calcite) in the rock such that any acid produc­ tion is offset by the neutralization available. So­ dium carbonate briquettes are available and can be uti­ lized by simply diverting a small stream of the acidic wa­ ter through (or over) a bed of the briquettes and allowing that solution to mix with the acidic water. Anoxic limestone drains: An anoxic limestone drain (ALD) is similar to an open limestone channel.osmre. This will tend to improve the release of alkalinity from the limestone. A somewhat more effective method for limestone treatment utilizes pulsed. the volumes that one will need to use will require either frequent refilling or large storage capacity.900 gallons) of solution. Because 50% solutions will solidify under cold conditions.2. and antimony since the Engineering Issue 19 .us/dep/deputate/minres/ bamr/amd/science_of_amd. a 25% solution is generally utilized and is available in bulk solu­ tions. aluminum-free waters that only contain metals that can be removed by chemical precipitation at pH  7. Carbon dioxide (either from tanks or by utilization of CO2 released from the limestone) aids the process by reducing the rate of iron oxidation in the reactors (http://www2. This system can be very inexpensive to construct.nps. The sodium hydroxide solution is complete­ ly utilized and an effective neutralization agent. but does not effectively remove most heavy metals. a flow of 100 mL/min will utilize 52. Sodium carbonate: A less caustic alternative to sodium hydroxide is the use of sodium carbonate (Na2CO3). Limestone has the most potential as a pretreat­ ment method for passive microbial-based systems where a decreased dissolution rate from armoring can be incorpo­ rated into the design.Open limestone channels: While limestone beds/chan­ nels have been used with some success in neutralizing mildly contaminated coal mine acidic drainage.nature. in mineral-mining applications. Control of the diversion can be managed with a weiring system. fluidized bed reactors in which acidic water is injected in an upward manner at high velocity into limestone columns. These acidic waters are also commonly generated from precious met­ als ore processing using cyanide for mill circuits or heap leach processing. Open limestone channels are constructed simply by laying limestone rock in a channel and allowing the acidic solution to pass over the rock or by laying limestone di­ rectly in a channel of acidic drainage (Ziemkiewicz et al. gov/amdtcst. Sodi­ um carbonate tends to cement together and change the amount of surface available for dissolution. Limestone dissolution can in­ crease the pH sufficiently to precipitate oxidized iron and aluminum. depending on the site conditions. and the lime­ stone tends to armor with aluminum and iron oxide coat­ ings. These systems have been used to decrease the acidity of drainage waters prior to aerobic wetlands or sulfate-reducing bioreactors (SRBs). Neutral and alkaline drain­ age contaminants generally are most problematic for the oxyanions of selenium. this method has shown best treatment when the channel is sloped to allow rapid movement of the water and scouring of the coatings on the limestone.state. the rate of release of alkalinity is difficult to control. arsenic.500 liters per year (~13. these systems are not commonly utilized. Two other disadvantages are the safety issues associated with using sodium hydroxide. these systems can be lined or unlined. However. This method can improve the scouring of the limestone and increase the release of alkalinity. However.pa.htm). as well as the increase in sodium con­ centrations that remain in the treated water. 1997: http://www. Sodium hydroxide: Addition of solutions of 25% sodium hydroxide to acidic water can be accomplished by either gravity flow or small solar-powered pumps.

primarily due to the need for arsenic billion tons. When arsenic in the erational flows of several hundred to several thousand gal­ 3 valence state is present in appreciable concentrations. the process discussed below.gov/) provide a more detailed dis­ ditional water is required to make up the difference of the cussion of the treatment options than is provided here.2. For this technology. ore is placed on high-density removal in drinking water.. as well as cy­ anide species. and other salts. An extensive recent EPA ar­ polyethylene sheets and rinsed with dilute concentrations senic treatment review (EPA. During this time. particularly in the 5 valence state. of time (months to years).focus/sec/arsenic/cat/Treatment_ tems are operated in a zero-discharge mode: the amount Technologies/) and the U. The most common arsenic treatment systems are briefly When precious metals recovery is completed. for example. Geological Survey Web site of water evaporating is greater than the rainfall. soluble constituents in the remaining water. amount lost to evaporation and the amount of rainfall.S.1 Arsenic and Antimony Total arsenic concentrations in drainage water can vary from less than 10 µg/L to several mg/L.06 ounces per ton-equivalent of gold) at many sites throughout the world. Antimony is gen­ erally found at lower concentrations. Discharge from 20 Engineering Issue . Because these ele­ ments are closely related (group 5A in the Periodic Table). Iron oxidizes to iron plex. also enhances the activity of microorganisms that can con­ 2003). in the water and reduces the pH to between 8 and 9. Nikolaos et al. drainage from heaps has been observed at most sites and these systems can remain effective for an extended period will continue for the foreseeable future. low-flow waste characterization testing. Depending on the design. removal of the cyanide is also reasonably effective in oxide. carbon dioxide dissolves strongly to iron oxides than in the 5 state. is estimated to be on the order of 2 focus in recent years. 2002: http://cluin. Arsenic. these sys­ taminantfocus/default. In arid regions of the world.2.org/con­ of sodium cyanide. subsequently increasing the concentration of precipitate.solubility of these constituents increases with higher pH. and arsenic is sorbed to the iron oxide surface. Arsenic can also (at least partially) be removed from mine waters by sulfate-reducing bacterial systems as described below. methods to remove arsenic from wa­ ter also are effective for antimony. water is sprayed into the air over the heaps and allowed to ferrous or ferric salts are added to the water and allowed to evaporate. The iron on the amount of meteoric water.usgs. sulfate. pit lakes. However. In this process.2. 2000). The rate of sorbs strongly to the surface of the precipitates and is ef­ water that is recirculated will decrease over time from op­ fectively removed from the water. lons/minute to residual flows that decrease to 0–50 gal­ a pre-oxidation step may be required since it sorbs less lons/minute. 4. the type of cap (if any) oxide/arsenic residue is generally not hazardous.cr.2. though the iron is ultimately mobilized (albeit slowly) The amount of water that drains from heaps will vary and the treatment system will need to be replaced.015–0. PRBs are described in Section 4.3. but it will also depend arsenic that is sorbed is generally not available. and ad­ (http://arsenic..2 Heap Effluent The use of heap leach technology for recovery of precious metals has evolved over the past 25 years and is commonly employed for low-grade ore (typically 0. This A recently developed method for arsenic treatment uti­ process also allows volatilization/oxidation of cyanide and lizes zero-valent iron (Su and Puls.g. treatments for removal are similar and will be considered together. In addition. the depending on the site conditions. arsenic-containing waters are vert the nitrogen in a variety of cyanide species to nitrate. 4. and other site-spe­ its classification is dependent on the results of site-specific cific conditions that may be present. dis­ duction of water volume is to continue to recirculate the charge water from pit dewatering) most often utilizes iron water to the heap using enhanced evaporation methods: precipitation/co-precipitation methods. Zero-valent iron systems have also been effectively applied as permeable reactive barri­ ers (PRBs) in subsurface systems for remediation of arse­ nic-containing ground water at a mill tailings site (EPA. For specific application to mine-related waters. although that is placed on the top of the heap. for closure of the heaps begins. passed over iron filings that generally have been mixed Because mercury is mobilized as a mercury–cyanide com­ into sand at a ratio of 10–20% iron. For these systems.2.2. nitrate. In general. may be elevated at cyanidization facilities and exceed discharge requirements. The tonnage of ore processed in this manner in Arsenic treatment technologies have received the greatest Nevada. Al­ reducing mercury concentrations in the drainage water. the most common method for initial re­ removal from large volumes of water (e. 2001. arsenic For arid sites.

Although many of the constituents in these fluids are the same as during clo­ sure. ion exchange.18 5. land ap­ come very costly on a per-gallon-treated basis.209 copper 0. cyanide species [both weak acid-dissociable (WAD) cyanide as well as total cyanide]. The constituents that are of particular concern include arsenic. a near-complete removal of all of the vegetation due to Because the water quality from these heaps is unlikely elevated concentrations of thiocyanate. nitrate.515 manganese 0.917 ble 4-4).130 3. because of Thus. mode and can utilize intensive techniques (e.g. a soil sterilant. or aggressive evaporation).022 0. Although this method is very inexpen­ heaps is discontinued.11 14. While specific treatment methods are available  0. where rainfall on the heap ex­ ceeds the amount of water that evaporates.heaps can be reliably eliminated only for sites in a highly Table 4-4. the more intensive management techniques be­ the very low expense of pond volume reduction. the release of Engineering Issue 21 . antimony.79 8. and nickel. cyanide removal becomes more important and re­ quires specialized treatment.642 for several of these constituents. In both cases. except pH all of these to surface water discharge requirements.17 9.028 0. These waters contain elements that have enhanced solubility at higher pH. Heap Drainage Chemistry Profiles of Three Closed arid region or those that have a very efficient store-and­ Heaps (Source: NDEP. or even groups of constit­ vanadium uents. this water can often be treated in a single batch whatever contaminants exist in the water.84 0.200 WAD CN 3 0. as well as residual cyanide com­ ponents. However. For example.109 of all of the constituents present in the drainage water (Ta­ molybdenum 0.. However.08 0.003 arsenic 0. Effluent 6/23/98 Effluent 4Q 95 Effluent 5/02 pH 7. sodium. the collection pond water volume is usually large.543 0. man-Landusky mine in Montana.880 1. Since the volume is contained in sive.200 5.004 0. mercury. membrane the land application at Beal Mountain mine resulted in separation. 2004) release cap. few options are available.130 470 antimony 0.035 0. disposal of contaminated water has been permitted in Current methods for residual heap drainage water treat­ Nevada for sites for which ground or surface water con­ ment include the following: tamination is unlikely.102 nickel 0.032 11. particularly Discharge of water to French drains: This method of for saline waters. While the risk factors in certain situations in extremely arid areas are low. The constituents present in residual cyanidization fluids differ substantially from acid drainage sites. to change substantially for years to decades due to the Elevated selenium and sodium have resulted in potential slow migration of meteoric water through the heaps.640 chloride 160 1.6 TDS 3.007 0.670 nitrate 54 171 96 sodium 340 3.3 sulfate 1. selenium.034 – 0.600 6. and pas­ plication is sometimes used. and the contaminants in the drainage water are released ei­ treatment is often required for the several millions of gal­ ther to the land surface or allowed to move downward lons typically left after recirculation of the water to the in the subsurface. favored. Drain­ age from three distinct closed heaps is described in Table 4-4.31 – 0. sul­ fate. any plant uptake problems and changes in the soil structure treatment process will need to be either continuous or al­ for land applications from heap effluent from the Zort­ low accumulation of water for periodic batch treatments. this form of water management carries risks from a pond. it can in some cases sive methods for water management (1–20 gal/min) are create serious problems.535 Effective treatment of heap effluent requires consideration selenium 0. However. Land application and French drains: For these meth­ Reduction in the volume of water by recirculation and ods.002 – 0. However. Heap 1 Heap 2 Heap 3 In higher-rainfall regions. relatively few methods are available that can remove All units are mg/L.023 –  0.051 0. treatment and discharge of excess water is required. water is simply land-applied via irrigation systems or evaporation on the heaps is generally utilized.01 mercury 0. passively drained through perforated pipe.

evaporative methods are one of the few options available for long-term treatment of residual heap drain­ age water. . Mn. or carbonate precipitates. which is sub­ sequently reduced to elemental selenium. 4.3 Treatment of Mine Water with Microbial Processes Evaporative processes are not completely passive. and Pb). Mo(VI). and land application had similar is­ sues with salts. Biogenic sulfide (produced from sulfate reduction) will promote the precipitation of metal sulfides (e. from a geothermal aquifer). and Sb(V) can be reduced and subsequently precipitated as a sulfide mineral (As2S3. and monitoring of this cap will be re­ quired to ensure that it retains the design characteristics. In addition. Subsequently. Although one option is to accumulate a larg­ er volume of water and follow this by periodic treatment using various membrane processes. arsenic) by co-precipitation. 2003) indicated that the most cost-effective method was the use of evaporative ponds.html. Anaerobic environments will promote the reduction of sulfate. Ni. although the costs for longterm treatment of low flows reduce the applicability of these methods that require intensive management and monitoring. Bioreac­ tors would not be effective for treatment of the high salin­ ity. Identification of target compound(s) and desired effluent limits. sele­ nium.g. As(V). oxidized metals. and antimony). Zn. ous waste criteria) into the subsurface has been criticized. Evaporation: Particularly for those sites that have high salinity. the source water was a geothermal water high in dissolved salts. Sb2S3). See. Most heaps will have a soil cap to limit infiltration of meteoric water. sulfate reducers. Membrane processes: Reverse osmosis and nanofiltra­ tion are examples of processes that can also be utilized for treatment of heap effluent.g. manganese and iron will precipitate in neutral (or near-neutral) waters and potentially remove other con­ taminants (e. MoS2.g. nitrate.. A recent analysis of alternatives of water man­ agement by consultants for a Nevada mine (see Heap 3 Effluent quality in Table 4-4) (Telesto Solutions.. SRBs (discussed below) can be successfully employed for sulfate and nitrate removal. The most extensive literature on applicable membrane processes is in the large-scale desali­ nization technology. which increases the pH and promotes precipitation of metal hydroxides. as well as for treatment of selenium and arsenic. the U. and it will need to be managed on a year-to-decade time frame. Aerobic environments will promote the oxidation of re­ duced metals. Cu. Pb.g. and metalloids (e. The option of geothermal aquifer injection was seriously considered. freshwater rinsing would require very large volumes of water (unavailable). and require regular monitoring to ensure the integrity of the pond liner and the piping system to deliver the water.. The design of microbial treatment schemes needs to consider: 1.g. In addition to the sodium load that resulted from the addition of sodium cyanide. howev­ er. particularly when salt concen­ trations are not excessive. and iron reducers) under anaerobic conditions to Cr(III) and U(IV).2. and sulfate from mining-impact­ ed waters in both natural and engineered systems. Bureau 22 Engineering Issue A variety of microorganisms can facilitate the removal of metals.highly contaminated water (some of which meets hazard­ of Reclamation literature on desalinization: http://www. 2. the salt loading in the heaps can be substan­ tial. Selenate (Se(VI)) can be reduced to selenite (Se(IV)). arsenic. and Fe) under a wide range of chemical conditions.gov/pmts/water/reports. but was found to be much more expensive than passive evaporation using surface ponds. hydroxide. Biological treatment: Biological processes can also be used for heap treatment. for example. particularly manganese and iron. The primary removal mechanism is the formation of oxide. respectively. Zn. As a result. particularly when the source water has high salt load­ ing (e. Cd. sulfides. the number of treatment options was few. this technique has not been utilized extensively. After oxi­ dation. and it is unlikely to be permitted for new applications.S. Successful removal of metals and metalloids from mining-impacted waters depends on providing appropriate environmental conditions to promote the desired microbial activity in conjunction with the appropriate chemistry.. Cr(OH)3(s) and UO2(s) are precipitated from solution.. Chromium (VI) and uranium (VI) can be re­ duced by a number of microorganisms (fermenters. Conditions for desired microbial activity. usbr. metalloids. Under sulfatereducing conditions. A byproduct of a number of anaerobic microorganisms is bicarbonate. The production of bicarbonate also promotes the forma­ tion of metal carbonate precipitates (e. Some metals will also be removed by co-precipitation with aluminum or iron hydroxides.

redox.3. and reduction of redox active metals. Additional issues that will affect the selection of any treat­ ment process are solids management. and wetland systems.g. the highest energy couple is used first. the microbial treatment options are usually constrained by the contaminant load in the water. The organic material can be supplied added interactions of the microorganisms can alter the in a water-soluble form (e..g. or wood) and can be selected to in­ clude organic material containing sufficient nitrogen. As with other treatment technologies for mining-impact­ ed waters. compost. wood chips or leaf compost). Models Potential electron acceptors used for energy acquisition developed to describe the rate of precipitation range from include oxygen. Water-sol­ The rate of precipitation tends to be controlled by the rate uble organics have been used for active bioreactor systems of the microbial function of interest (e. the presence of a microenvi­ ronment and microorganisms with different metabolisms allows concurrent usage of multiple electron acceptors. Mass trans­ mining-impacted waters. The changes in chemical envi­ Microorganisms need an electron donor and acceptor cou­ ronment can include pH. 4. many microorganisms can adapt to lower and higher pH values (5–9) or may be protected from bulk solution–phase pH in microenvironments. and cost. sulfate reduction) can be kept constant if the num­ ber of active bacteria increases proportionally. followed by those of decreasing energy.g. or radionuclides. A carbon source. which are then available for sulfate reducers.. hols.. as well as the require­ ments for treatment. although the overall rates of reaction (e. and carbon dioxide. pH. In biofilm systems. mass transfer can control the observed rate of reaction. sulfate. Most of the desired microbial processes have optimal rates at neutral pH. provide a useful material for the electron donor. identification of target contaminants and the associated discharge requirements are necessary for selec­ tion of a microbial system. manure. Microbial activity tends to decrease also be used to indirectly provide a carbon source for sul­ Engineering Issue 23 . Nutrient addition (particularly nitrogen) is typically re­ quired when water-soluble organic materials are used as the carbon source. Mass transfer and kinetic constraints. Dis­ empirical constant-rate models to models that couple solved oxygen is typically insufficient for desired microbi­ microbial kinetics with a selected reactor configuration. which then also serves as estimate of the potential of precipitates to form. molasses or ethanol) or in a expected distribution of precipitates formed. is by the rate-limiting step of the microbial community permeable reactive walls. Most microbial-based treatment systems require organic gov/projects/GWC_coupled/phreeqc). insufficient sulfide is mote conditions conducive to desired precipitation or generated to precipitate the metals. One way the rate of sulfate reduction is controlled have been used in active and passive bioreactor systems. al reactions and must be added either actively or passive­ Mass transfer is also important in describing the overall ly. Carbon dioxide is sufficient for tems (any system with solid-phase growth media) and will fermentative reactions involving solid-phase organic mat­ be a function of linear velocity. Redox conditions are important relative to the electron acceptor used by an active consortium of bacteria. providing growth substrates for sulfate reduction. Conditions for desired chemistry. and 4. grams. and reactant formation. metal­ loids.g. but the the carbon source. While microbial systems can treat a number of types of contaminants effectively. However. co-precipitation reactions. with temperature. Solid-phase organics tion).1 Sulfate-Reducing Systems Sulfate-reducing systems promote the microbial-facilitat­ ed reduction of sulfate. and conse­ Microorganisms alter the chemical environment to pro­ quently residence time is reduced.. Solid-phase organic material can sensitive to all of them.2. and biofilm ter hydrolysis and production of organic acids and alco­ thickness. ple for energy generation. particularly those where pyrite fer limitations are particularly important for biofilm sys­ oxidation has occurred. operation and main­ tenance requirements. a carbon source and nutrients for The theoretical predictions by chemical equilibrium pro­ cell synthesis. is required to promote the growth of sulfate re­ tures. In general. solid form (e.g. When flows are high. nitrate. such as lactate or Mining-impacted waters exist with a range of tempera­ ethanol. and appropriate environmental conditions. generation of alkalinity.usgs. media size. and redox conditions.3. However. sulfate reduc­ and ground water treatment systems.cr. production of sulfide. such as PHREEQC (see http://wwwbrr. and microorganisms are ducers in these systems. Sulfate is present at adequate concentrations in many rate of precipitation for biotreatment systems.. Solid-phase organic substrates used are typically a combination of a number of materials (e.

The removal of metals as metal sulfides is typically based on the expected rate of sulfate reduction (sulfide produc­ tion). A method of removing metal precipitates and excess biomass must be included as part of the over­ all system. Examples of the multiple reactions that can occur under sulfate-reducing condition. (See INAP [2003] for a sum­ mary of water treatment methods designed specifically for removal of sulfate. Ac­ tive systems include a number of patented configurations that may include partial sulfate removal as gypsum and recovery of excess sulfide as elemental sulfur. Selenate → Elemental selenium) Chemical reaction: reduced metalloid precipitate formation Figure 4-5. As). primary reactions of interest are shown in Figure 4-5 at Anaerobic wetlands utilize sulfate-reducing bacteria to the bottom of this page. and oxidation of iron on the surface. Sulfide precipitation is very effective in reduc­ ing a number of metals to low levels. compost-based bioreactors. The area required is a function of the mass loading of each target contaminant.fate reducers from the actions of cellulolytic and ferment­ ing bacteria. immobilize metal cations (Fe. Sb. Anaerobic removal pro­ The range of reactions promoted in a sulfate-reducing sys­ cesses control the treatment of metals and the neutraliza­ tem depends in part on the type of carbon source selected. The resulting number of reactions that vegetation. 24 Engineering Issue .3. A a greater diversity of microbial population in addition to minor aerobic component of this system is the surface sulfate reducers.1 Anaerobic Wetlands Sulfate-reducing systems may be implemented in ac­ tive or relatively passive treatment configurations.2.1. Reduced metalloids also may be effectively removed. The vegetation and sediment provide surfaces for the growth of attached bacteria. The hydrogen sulfide. Cu. In addition. Rela­ tively passive configurations include anaerobic wetlands. The contaminated water is intercepted and The use of more complex organic compounds results in diverted through the wetland system (see Figure 4-6). and U.. which allows the release of carbon dioxide and control sulfate reduction also increases in complexity. Se. tion of acid. Optional inlet manifold warm climates Inlet zone 2" to 3" gravel Water surface Inlet manifold cold climates Vegetation Membrane liner or impermeable soils Treatment zone 1/2" to 11/2" gravel Outlet zone 2" to 3" gravel Outlet manifold Figure 4-6. Relatively passive systems with soluble carbon input include permeable re­ active zones (PRZs) and rock-filled bioreactor ponds. such as cattails and reeds. Pb. ons (Cr. The overall effectiveness is dependent on the capture of precipitated metals and metalloids and the stability of the microbial community as a whole. Mo. The rate of removal for metalloids and uranium is not as well established and may require bench.) 4. Wide ranges of microbial species are able to catalyze sulfate reduction. Schematic of anaerobic wetland with subsurface flow. and PRBs. Note that high-flow events. An anaerobic wetland is a subsurface water body that sup­ ports the growth of emergent plants. may damage the microbial community and disperse precipitates downstream. oxyani­ Large areas with a relatively flat topography are required for wetland treatment systems. Suspended reactor systems require the highest level of operation and maintenance. if not bypassed.g. Cd. Zn). Bioreaction: sulfate  organic carbon ⇒ sulfide  alkalinity (bicarbonate) 2CH2O(aq)  SO42(aq) → HS(aq)  H  2HCO3(aq) Chemical reaction: sulfide  metal ⇒ metal-sulfide and carbonate  metal ⇒ metal-carbonate HS  Me2 → MeS  H and/or Bioreaction: oxidized metalloid  organic carbon ⇒ reduced metalloid (e. where the precipitates can be dissolved. the produc­ tion of alkalinity allows for the neutralization of excess acid present in target mine waters.and pilotscale testing.

calcite. and uranium reduction. driven pump. which may reduce the hydraulic retention time and exclude flow through portions of the reactive zone. temperature. Zn 2) as metal sulfides. subsequent Influent Effluent Bioreactor polishing ponds are required. the effective pH for removal of iron fate remains in the water to allow the SRB system to gener­ sulfide is above pH 6. B is a modification that includes a separate tank or pond for precipita­ tion and sludge collection. and biomass are flushed into temperature will reduce the bacterial activity and hence a collection basin at a frequency that eliminates hydraulic the rates of sulfate. probably by flushing. In addition. Costs cannot be generalized on a per-mass ba­ sis for target contaminants because of the effect of other important factors such as flow. and appropriately managed.5. larger wetland for colder climates will be required relative to more temperate areas. the design hydraulic systems can allow continuous use. Config­ uration B allows a more convenient settling of the sludge in a settling basin. has shown that the system is most effective when the influent pH is adjusted to above pH 4. Mo. and thus The precipitation of metals modifies the pore structure the effluent from these reactors should be polished via within the wetland subsurface and may reduce the effec­ gravity settling or filtration. which utilizes ethanol as a carbon source to treat an influent flow of 40 L/min. For typical sulfide concentrations actor. Pb2. which will ultimately need to be removed.5 or higher (Tsukamoto et al. oxyanions (Cr. As). The acidic drainage is then Engineering Issue 25 . the initial sizing must take this and the replacement frequency into consider­ ation. The metals precipitate (mostly as sulfides) in the settling basin. a positive pumping system. B Recycle 4. and U. The effectiveness for removal generating system (Figure 4-7) in which a portion of the via sulfide precipitation is dependent on both the pH and bioreactor effluent is recycled back to the front of the biore­ sulfide concentration. the op­ eration and maintenance effort and cost are proportion­ ally lower.2. While ethanol can be added by a simple SRBs have been used to immobilize metal cations (Cu2. The flow rate of discharge is the same as the flow rate of the influent. The use of solid-phase substrate in a packed bed system is affected by the precipitation of metals. Highly variable flow may result in the flushing of collected precipitates. providing the precipi­ residence time should include a suitable safety factor. A is a simple flow-through system that requires periodic removal of solids from main reactor. thus. Low tated metal sulfides. and the pH is raised. the bioreactor can be operated as a sulfide­ ing sulfate concentrations. which can be added using a solara carbon source and a surface for bacterial attachment. Se. although the ease of sludge man­ agement will usually outweigh the power costs. SRB configurations.2 Bioreactors SRBs can be designed in a number of configurations (see Figure 4-7). ate sulfide and add alkalinity.. the more viscous sodium hydroxide requires Cd2.5. and loss of permeability.3. The pumps used to recycle the water require a power source. gravity flow. The optimum pH for SRB systems is 7–7.The construction cost for anaerobic wetlands might be lower compared to active treatment. A plugging in the bioreactor. which is more easily removed and man­ aged from the bioreactor system. and pH. thus. In this configuration a portion of the effluent from the settling basin is recycled to the front of the bioreactor where SRBs reduce sulfate to sulfide. Configuration A simply treats the influent acidic water and allows the precipitated sludge to settle in the bioreactor. Experience at the Levia­ than bioreactor. They also are effective in reduc­ Alternatively. Ethanol is added to the bioreactor. These flushable bioreactor tive hydraulic retention time. Bioreactor Influent Settling tank Effluent Sludge Figure 4-7. Thus.1. This has been accomplished by the addition of a 25% sodium Solid-phase organic material can also be used to provide hydroxide solution. Sb. Biofilm systems constructed of rock or plastic me­ dia may allow the release of precipitated metals. 2004). Collection of precipitates and sediments. and sufficient sul­ (103  104 M). metalloid. and the ef­ fectiveness of SRB systems can be substantially reduced when the influent acidity is high. will lead to the Sludge A periodic need to rebuild the entire system. Fe2. The sulfide-containing water is then mixed with the influent acidic mine drainage.

1.3. this con­ figuration also requires pumping approximately 30 – 40 gal/min from the settling pond to the front of the bioreac­ tor and requires an energy source of approximately 0.mixed with the effluent from the bioreactor in a settling pond. L/min can be constructed for under $200. However. However. The SAPS consists of an ALD overlaid with organic material (e. flushable lined systems to treat up to 50 in a series of wells that transect a ground water plume. (Source: EPA/600/R-98/125) The reactions promoted in a PRB depend on the reac­ tive media selected and the target contaminant. SRBs offer the advantage of a lower sludge management requirement since the sulfides are precipitated as metal sulfides or as sulfur. and the metal sulfide precipitates and is effective­ ly captured in this pond. This configuration allows better management of the sludge and maximizes the SRB activity by keeping the pH close to optimal. Reactive media types may be mixed to promote the removal of multiple contaminants by different reaction mechanisms. Relative to active treatment. Simple. A function of both the system type and the size required to related subsurface technology is a permeable reactive zone treat the site-specific concentrations and types of contam­ (PRZ) that is created by the injection of a reactive solution inants. Bioreactors can also be managed more effectively at remote locations. surface precipitation of aluminum and iron oxide coat­ ings on the surface that limits the availability of the cal­ cium carbonate for neutralization. and even when iron oxidation is inhibited by having anoxic conditions. hay and manure). The main types of reactive media used include organic material (to promote biogenic sulfide production) and zero-valent iron.. sorption. Under certain conditions.5 hp.g. The contaminants are retained The cost of SRBs varies widely from site to site and is a in the barrier and eventually are removed by excavation.. Site-specific criteria will determine which treatment option provides the most cost-effective approach. The reactive media promotes the removal of metals and radionuclides by precipitation. Two configurations of APSs have been developed: the suc­ cessive APS (SAPS) and the reducing APS (RAPS). with visitations of 1–2 times per month. rather than daily management. at some point.000. However.g. Many hard-rock acidic drainage sites have high aluminum ( 30 mg/L) concen­ trations. ● Sulfate-reducing biozone reactions ● Zero-valent iron: oxidation/reduction: Fe(0)  Cr(VI)  Fe(III)  Cr(III) and precipitation: Cr(III)  3OH  Cr(OH)3(s) . the applicability in hard-rock mine sites is complicated by 26 Engineering Issue GW flow Permeable reactive barrier Figure 4-8. the RAPS consists of an ALD in­ tegrated with organic material. APSs target acidity and metals that precipitate as hy­ droxides or carbonates at slightly alkaline pHs. lime treatment will. these systems can help increase the pH of influent water sufficiently to allow SRB systems to better thrive. The cost of adding base (gener­ ally sodium hydroxide or sodium carbonate) will vary. 4.2 Permeable Reactive Barriers A permeable reactive barrier (PRB) is a zone of reactive media emplaced in the flow path of contaminated ground water (see Figure 4-8). If the acidity (or flow) of the water is sufficient that the cost of raising the pH dominates the Waste cost of treatment.2. or ion exchange. while they have shown success in certain drainages from coal sites. APSs are inexpensive and have low operation and maintenance costs.2. aluminum coating alone will reduce the effectiveness since precipitation only requires a slight increase in pH to near pH 5 to result in armoring of the limestone. as is usually the case with conventional lime/treatment facili­ ties. media that promote sorption or ion ex­ change can also be found. be­ come a more cost-effective and reliable option.3 Alkalinity-Producing Systems Alkalinity-producing systems (APSs) are an integration of ALD systems with anaerobic sulfate-reducing biosystems. The cost of the carbon source (e. ethanol at $US2/gal) is gener­ ally a relatively small component ( 20%) of the cost of operating a bioreactor. as dis­ cussed previously. Water table Plume Treated water 4.3. Schematic of PRB system. de­ pending on the acidity.

science. Zn).3. A third issue is the availability of cost-effective reactive media and 4.1 Aerobic Wetlands An aerobic wetland is a shallow water body (less than 2 ft. The hy­ microbial oxidation of elemental sulfur to sulfide for met­ drologic and geologic properties of the subsurface also al sulfide precipitation is a recently developed proprietary must be adequately characterized to assess potential ef­ process. Zn2. A number of non–sulfate-reducing biosystems have been At a minimum. New systems are constantly being developed. Groundwater Geochemistry and Remediation. New proprietary systems require inde­ active media is another critical factor. http://clu-in. Sb.2. Sb). can form Fe2 from uwaterloo. such as cattails and reeds (see Figure 4-9). The cost for PRBs and PRZs varies widely from site to site.● Sorption: Me  surface site ⇐ ⇒ Me -surface complex 2 ● 2 Ion exchange: Me2  R-Ca  Ca2  Me-R The precipitation of metals modifies the pore structure within the reactive zone and may reduce the hydraulic re­ tention time and exclude flow through portions of the re­ active zone. pounds.focus/sec/ PRZs have been achieved by the injection of reactive com­ Permeable_Reactive_Barriers/cat/Overview/ pounds into the subsurface area to be treated. Zero-valent iron barriers can reduce Key Web Site References and immobilize redox active compounds that include Cr. water flow within the reactive zone.3. Sb.ca/research/ggr/PermeableReactiveBarri­ Fe3 on aquifer material. oxyanions (Cr. The precludes the use of a cookbook design protocol. Media promoting sorption or ion http://www. Mo. The microbial and drainage and. Cd2. Solutes may be released from the dissolution of solid-phase materials. Inorganic com­ Permeable Reactive Barriers: http://www. Sulfate-reducing biozones have been used to immobilize heavy metal cations (Cu. and As. The vegetation and the sediment provide surfaces for the growth of attached bacteria. The frequency and cost of replacement will also vary with media type and the level of contamination. Organic ● University of Waterloo. can promote biogenic sulfide ences. ● EPA hazardous waste cleanup information: Pb2. such as sodium dithionite. and the most expensive are specially designed sorp­ tive or ion exchange materials. Pb. to a lesser extent. UO22) or anions (Cr. Se. The cost is a function of both the media type and the barrier or zone size required to treat the site-specific con­ centrations and types of contaminants. Aer­ termine the effectiveness of a specific reactive media con­ obic wetlands have been commonly used for coal mine figuration and a specific ground water. As). ● An example of the use of a PRB for treatment of ura­ The most important implementation issue for PRBs and nium in ground water (Chapter 16) and acid reme­ PRZs is the ability to capture the contaminated ground diation in ground water (Chapter 17): http://www. The Fe2 can then participate ers/PermeableReactiveBarriers. Cd. Mo. Organic materials are the least expensive. such as acetate. Engineering Issue 27 .org/public/permbarr/default. or desorption. column experiments are required to de­ used for removal of contaminants from mine water. Uniform mixing and emplacement of the re­ tion of manganese. Department of Earth Sci­ compounds. as is a patented process for the microbial oxida­ fectiveness. The second issue is image-train. zero-valent iron is more expen­ sive. As.2. for hard-rock mine drain­ chemical complexity of processes in the PRB and PRZ age. ion exchange. Se. as is the ability to pendent verification of effectiveness before selection. production or biological metal reduction.org/techfocus/default. ● EPA remediation technologies development forum: U. 4.rtdf. Media has been demonstrated to have a life of about 7 years. giv­ en the chemical composition of the target water. Mo. deep) with a free water surface that supports the growth of emergent plants.net/products/proceedings_first/ the ability to promote the desired chemical reactions. and U. The contaminated water is intercepted and diverted through the wetland system.3 Other Bioremediation Systems the frequency of media replacement.3. Aerobic removal pro­ cesses control the treatment of metals. maintain an acceptable hydraulic conductivity through­ out the reactive zone. Se.html in the reduction of Cr(VI) to Cr(III). but theoretically its life could be 10 years to several decades.htm exchange can be selected to target cations (Cu2.

or (3) zero outflow (a “terminal” lake. drainages. The rate of abi­ lakes are special cases of this phenomenon. lakes will concentrate solutes and can ment: http://www. In addition. temperature. which are mobilized at ly variable flow may result in the resuspension of settled elevated pH.pa. we The reactions promoted in an aerobic wetland are primar­ “see” the water table as the surface of the lake. and selenium. can be a concern under conditions where the iron and manganese precipitates. In practice.gov/nstc/library/pdf/ can change over time. and pH. of ground water). potentially inducing regional oxidation in aqui­ lower. Where evaporation is large and ground ● The science of acid mine drainage and passive treat­ water outflow small. The removal of manganese requires a larger area per unit. Most of the successful pH is alkaline and insufficient iron is present to cause co­ application of aerobic wetlands has been for coal mine precipitation of these constituents. Mine pit ily the oxidation of iron and manganese. solutes in ground iron or manganese because of the effect of other impor­ water. Costs cannot be generalized on a per-mass basis for fers and increasing.Water table Liner Soil Table 4-5 on the following pages provides an overview of water treatment technologies covered in this section. leaving the open pit and chemical precipitation Fe(III)  3OH  Fe(OH)3(s) (or “void”) within the ground water cone of depression. (2) outflow to surface water and ground Large areas with a relatively flat topography are required water. Schematic of a free water surface aerobic wetland. Key Web Site References the effect of ground water quality on pit lake quality tends ● A general discussion of passive mine water treat­ to increase with increasing lake size. Ground water quality ments: http://www. Steadyand chemical precipitation Mn(IV)  O2  MnO2(s) state mine pit lakes can have (1) throughflow to ground Aerobic wetlands for iron and manganese removal are water (in some cases.dep. antimony. and limitations. Further. ble. When ground water is a dominant source of inflow. water quality standards for TDS or other solutes. the opera­ dewatering of sulfide zones can pull air into surrounding tion and maintenance effort and cost are proportionally aquifers. low compared to active treatment. a few meters into the face. 4. With cessation of dewatering.3 Mine Pit Lake Management Lakes are typically “windows to the ground water”— where the land surface drops below the water table.blm. not metals mine drainages.us/dep/deputate/ eventually becomes sources of ground water exceeding minres/bamr/amd/science_of_amd. where all in­ for wetland treatment systems. quired to fill lakes. High­ Arsenic. temporarily at least. Rock that is net neutralizing Low temperature will reduce bacterial activity and hence will produce a pit lake that is relatively benign since the the rates of iron and manganese oxidation. (Continued on page 32) 28 Engineering Issue . Figure 4-9. forming in open pit mines that are excavated to below the water ta­ otic oxidation is increased by the presence of bacteria. forming a lake. The area required is a func­ flows are balanced by evaporation). Ice covers will problematic divalent metals concentrations will be low. water quality primarily by leaching solutes released by the The construction cost for aerobic wetlands is relatively oxidation of sulfide minerals exposed in the pit. Wall rock affects pit lake of manganese removed than for iron.state. ground water flows to the Bio-oxidation: Mn(II)  oxygen ⇒ Mn(IV)  water center of the cone of depression. evaporation produces concentration most amenable to near-neutral and net-alkaline waters. excavation below a water table requires Bio-oxidation: Fe(II)  oxygen ⇒ Fe(III)  water dewatering to lower the water table. also limit the rate of oxygen transfer to the wetland.PDF. technology selection factors. Pit mines are by definition in areas of elevated metals.htm. particularly given the long times re­ TN409.mass The ultimate quality of the pit lake is strongly affected by the surrounding wall rock. The depth of rapid oxidation may be limited to tant factors such as flow. tion of the mass loading of both iron and manganese. and groundwaters often contain elevated trace metals or sul­ fate.

Al. • High aluminum-containing waters will armor lime­ stone and decrease the rate of alkalinity addition • It is difficult to remove all of the oxygen. This limits the amount of oxidation of the iron and limits the amount of precipita­ tion on the limestone. Some metal reduction is observed.Table 4-5. Acidity. Al. Al. Acidity. Effectiveness • Requires engi­ • Generally con­ neered system to sidered the most efficiently utilize proven method for lime. and acidity • Armoring is a problem • Usually low maintenance • Relatively inex­ pensive and low maintenance • Depends on the availability of lime­ stone and con­ struction costs • High aluminum and iron waters will armor the limestone and reduce effectiveness • Precipitated sludge may require management. sulfate (to 2. these systems will not respond well to large fluctuations in volume or influent water quality 29 . Limestone Ponds and Open Limestone Channels Establish open ponds or channels that can receive acidic water. depending on location and regulations • May not treat certain di­ valent metals well (Cd. including pow­ acid drainage er. pumps. As.000 mg/L). depending on the aluminum. Par­ (generally) pas­ tial metal sively added to the removal. so some iron is oxidized and tends to armor the limestone • Unless sized appropri­ ately. and Zn) • Shown to be use­ ful for coal acidic drainage. and lime ad­ • Depends on types dition systems of metal loading • Can treat the most concentrated acidic drainages • Care must be taken to maintain anoxic conditions • Generally need sloping topography and passive trans­ port of water Cost Important Limitations The most cost-ef­ fective method for treating large flows or highly contaminat­ ed water. treatment mixers. Mn. • Acidic water is Fe. limestone pond or channel and al­ lowed to react • Turbulent systems improve release of alkalinity Anoxic Limestone Drains Intercept acidic water that pri­ marily has ferrous iron and pass this water through limestone beds under anoxic conditions. Some main­ tenance cost is required if a biologi­ cal system is used to maintain anoxic conditions. • Requires frequent monitoring and sludge management • Arsenic treatment effec­ tive only with a high ironto-arsenic ratio • Variable. tanks. The limestone neutralizes the acids and allows precipitation of a variety of metals as metal oxides. Cu. Less cost effective for small streams due to fixed costs. Most diva­ lent metals. but less so for hard-rock mine drainage and heavy metals • Decreased overall rate of reaction • Longer residence times provide better neutralization and decrease in target analytes Relatively inexpen­ sive. Water Treatment Technologies for Hard-Rock Mining Effluent Technology Name Technology Description Target Analytes Critical Feasibility Factors Implementabilty Engineering Issue Conventional Lime Treatment Lime or hydrated lime is mixed as 10-15% slurry and added to acidic water to raise the pH of the water and precipitate metals as metal oxides and sulfate as gypsum Acidity. iron. Sb.

Water Treatment Technologies for Hard-Rock Mining Effluent (continued) Engineering Issue Technology Name Technology Description Target Analytes Critical Feasibility Factors Implementabilty Effectiveness Cost • Excavation • Plants and support­ ing soil • Hydraulic structures Important Limitations Anaerobic Wetlands Intercept surface water flow and Fe. and varying flows and nutrients contaminant loads. Cr. sulfate. See above See above Alcohol and base • Higher initial costs addition can be for construction. As. Sb. Mo. Se. Zn. base. Fe. Bacteria use the alcohols as reducing sources for sulfate. Zn. distribute through one or more sub­ Cd. sulfate. surface water wetlands Cr. as controlled and allow well as the costs of better treatment of alcohols. U. • Allows substantially Sludge manage­ improved longev­ ment and hydraulic ity of the bioreactor control are improved due to lack of plug­ compared to the more ging and a continu­ passive SRB systems. ethanol) and base added to lined impoundments con­ taining rocks.. Se.g. SRBs reduce sulfate. Cu. The system is designed to manage sludge efficiently. and precipi­ tate metals. Pb.30 Table 4-5. wood chips. effluent metal concen­ tration may exceed dis­ charge limitations when flows or contaminant concentrations are high • Systems with media that create small pores sizes (mm) are more prone to clogging by metal precipitates • Longevity is dependent on carbon available to the microbial consortium Alcohol Amended SulfateReducing Bioreactor Alcohols (e. low levels of acidity • Availability of in­ expensive organic substrates • Power availability for active systems • Accessibility for system maintenance • Sufficient land area for passive systems • pH  5 • Growth substrate • Moderate metal • Bioreactor loading • Additional tanks or • Method of retaining ponds for process metal precipitates modifications • Longevity is de­ pendent on carbon source and the ability of SRB to maintain a pH suffi­ ciently high to sup­ port SRB activity • Best for water above pH 5. Cd. As. Cu. wood chips. and planned sludge management • Relatively low flows • Large land areas and flat topography • Periodic sediment remov­ al and wetland reestab­ lishment required • Oxidation and release of metals and sulfides is probable if the wetlands become dry • Difficult to control metal migration . base. ous carbon source • Although these systems are more adaptable to variations in flow and contaminants. low levels of acidity • Steepness of slope • Sufficient land area • Sensitive to low temperatures • pH  5 and moder­ ate metal loading SulfateReducing Bioreactors Collect flow with pumps or natural hydraulic gradient and distribute through a vessel containing growth substrate (manure. other organic waste) and sulfatereducing bacteria. or other physical support. Mo. U. Pb. monitoring is required to maintain the bioreactor operation • Requires a continuous source of carbon. Sb. raise the pH.

Permeable Reactive Barriers (“Reducing Reactive Walls”) Aerobic Wetlands Critical Feasibility Factors Important Limitations Implementabilty Effectiveness Cost • Steepness of slope • Sufficient land area • Flow • Acid-loading rate • Metal-loading rate • Excavation • Limestone • Reducing organic material • Hydraulic structure • Experience primarily based on coal mine • Improves water quality. Water flows through and contami­ nants are retained. • Steepness of slope • Sufficient land area • Near-neutral pH re­ • Excavation • Periodic sediment and quired to maximize • Plants and support­ precipitate removal and oxidation reactions ing soil wetland reestablishment • High-flow variations • Hydraulic structures required may re-suspend • Experience primarily metal precipitates based on coal mine drainage 31 . but frequency not well established • Concurrent iron reduc­ tion may mobilize metals sorbed to iron mineral surfaces • Sulfate reduction rates ~50 mg/L-d. As water and flow through one or more free water surface wetlands. Some metal reduction is observed. Metals are precipitated as metal oxides and metal carbonates. respectively. Arsenic can be removed by co-precipitation with iron hydroxides. but may not meet strin­ gent discharge standards • Periodic exchange of sub­ strate required. Intercept contaminated surface Fe. • Stability of trench wall during installation • Plume width • Depth to ground water and bottom of aquifer • Homogeneous emplacement of barrier material or injection of reactive solution • Column studies required to assess potential effectiveness • pH  5 and moder­ ate metal loading • Reactive material • Excavation and dewatering during excavation • Soil and ground water disposal from construction • Thickness along flow line to achieve residence time • Uncertainty in PRB life – affects cost of technology • Periodic replenishment of reactive media expected. Al. Water Treatment Technologies for Hard-Rock Mining Effluent (continued) Technology Name Engineering Issue Technology Description Target Analytes AlkalinityProducing Systems Intercept surface water flow and distribute through a series of shallow drains containing both limestone and reducing organic material. Acidity. Rate affects cost of technology. but time frame not well established Intercept contaminated ground wa­ See above ter plume with a permeable barrier constructed of reactive material.Table 4-5. Mn. Iron and manganese oxidation form species that are less soluble and tend to precipitate as Fe(OH)3 and as MnO2 .

the presence of anoxic conditions induced by elevated organic carbon will generally result in reduction of sulfate to produce alkalinity and hydrogen sulfide. Reactive rock placed appropriately in the bottom of a pit during mining will then be flooded when mining is complete and effectively eliminate further oxi­ dation of the rock that is placed below the water table. As important. limestone crushed to  2 mm can typically be obtained for $US5 – 10/tonne. the water is oxygenated at least part of the year. 4. where sulfate concentrations are elevat­ ed. which tends to increase mixing. Finally. hydrated lime (Ca(OH)2) or limestone (CaCO3). the local type of limestone near hard-rock mining is usually not as reactive as other forms of process neutralization agents. particu­ larly if the pH of the backfilled material is not controlled. 2003). In mine pit lakes. and in most cases. 1997). yielding lake neutralization costs of a few cents per cubic meter). but can greatly exceed this cost at challenging sites.. As a result. The effectiveness of this option was demonstrated by treatment of a large acidic pit lake using lime at the Sleeper Mine in Nevada. Biological productivity in lakes is superimposed on the physical stratification. Martin et al. Field-scale nutrient addition has demonstrated that pit lake productivity can be reli­ ably increased through the addition of limiting nutrients (e.e. lime or some other neutralization agent can be added to maintain a neutral pH as the acids are rinsed off the rock as the water table recovers. which could in­ crease costs.000 mg/L sulfate. Detailed measurements of sea­ sonal profiles in mid-latitude pit lakes show that even in steep-sided lakes with high walls. precipitation.1 Backfilling and Neutralization Backfilling pits completely with waste rock or tailings can preclude the formation of a pit lake and can also provide permanent stable disposal of sulfidic waste rock below a water table. this is primarily the use of light energy by phytoplankton to convert car­ bon dioxide into cell mass and oxygen. observed physical stratification and biological productivity in these pit lakes matched accurately with predictions using a numerical model (Atkins et al. 32 Engineering Issue . pit lakes that mix annually (i. most U. where ground water inflow is mixed into the lake each year.Numerous studies of mine pit lakes indicate that they behave in accordance with well-understood processes of limnology (e. Particularly for large pits. particularly phosphate. Treatment of acidic pit lakes can be achieved using di­ rect addition of powdered lime (CaO). and treatment costs can be very low (if a local source is available..g.S. However. several studies of existing mine pit lakes demon­ strate that they generally respond as predicted by estab­ lished limnologic studies. 1997). and to re­ liably simulate these phenomena with models—lay the foundation for remedial strategies that treat in-situ met­ als-contaminated pit lakes and even use pit lakes as reac­ tors to treat mine effluent from other facilities.3. and any additional handling-in­ duced oxidation adds to this baseline. However. Neutralization precipitates iron and typically removes most heavy metals by co-precipitation or adsorp­ tion. backfilling with reactive rock typi­ cally produces a plume of sulfate and other solutes re­ leased by partial oxidation caused by handling. the lakes stratify from surface warming during the summer. However. The fundamental physical process is mixing. then completely mix in fall and spring. and stable density stratification caused by tem­ perature and salinity gradients.. surface flows. Productivity in natural lakes is typically limited by nutrients. depending on site conditions. In this case. In natural lakes. Backfilling is often eliminated based on cost.. a neutralized pit lake typically contains These fundamental characteristics of lakes manage­ below 3. Atkins et al. partial pit backfilling can be done as part of a mine plan and reduces the haulage costs of waste rock out of the pit. to induce biological productivity and sulfate reduction. This analytical solution is typically used in predictive lake models. A chemical mass balance on solutes needs to incor­ porate loads from inflow and outflow of ground water. Partial pit backfilling is an option that is becoming in­ creasingly common in precious metals pits. and loss to precipitation and adsorption. Handling of sulfide rock produces some oxidation: reac­ tion of sulfide minerals with the oxygen in the pore space of backfilled waste rock will produce ~500 mg/L sulfate in the first flush of water. which tend to inhibit mixing. which is a balance between wind shear acting on the surface. Highly productive lakes can also become an­ oxic at depth as dissolved oxygen is consumed in reac­ tions with organic detritus from the productive surface. ment—the ability to isolate denser deep layers. lakes) can be approximated as stirred reactors.. generally over $US1/tonne.g..

offer lower-cost options for closure and management of mine pit lakes. hydroxides [e..g. producing biologic detritus that induces tion. Both treatments can result in rapid production of bio­ mass..3.4. In-situ treatments include stratifica­ ● Nutrient addition: typically phosphate and nitrate.000 acre-feet.. tion. troduce organic carbon to pit lakes: single or infrequent treatment (e.. In addi­ tion.. from a few acre-feet to over 400.g. of a target analyte by organic carbon. or organic waste. to the lake (e. (using CHO to represent organic carbon source) include but the treatment is generally rapid (reactions completed reduction of sulfate to sulfide. Specific reactions include biologically atmosphere. and regardless of pH. the long-term fate of precipitated sol­ utes is burial in sediments in a chemically stable form. Poling et al. Both methods have been demonstrated in full-scale applications.. producing organic detritus that can adsorb and set­ In-situ bioremediation induces chemically reducing con­ tle out dissolved metals. anoxic conditions or inducing them to precipitate as insoluble minerals that must be created and maintained long enough to allow the settle out of solution (e. or taining a layer of less dense water [e. 2003. developing technologies such as metal-specific converted to a reduced form that precipitates as oxides microbes that precipitate arsenic and selenium as sulfides (e. FeS. typically alcohols.. and phytoplankton. Remediation requirements Two fundamentally different approaches are used to in­ include monitoring only (where water quality is good).. surface and potential exposure to terrestrial animals. and ZnS). and zooplankton) near the surface biotreatment technologies. heavy metal sulfides). and and reduction of metals to a less soluble form: it may be more practical where long-term management   2CHO  SbO3  HCO3  Sb(OH)3(S) is anticipated. Sb(V) to Sb(III). CdS. This is where stratification is required—an­ treatment of mine pit lakes (Castro and Moore.. UO2). acidity. Pit lakes vary enormously in size. Water in hard-rock mine pit lakes can in some cases be acidic. 2004) and full-scale (Poling et al. 2000) oxic conditions generally require that a lake be stratified and has been successfully demonstrated in microcosm (thermally and/or chemically) during at least part of a year (Frömmichen et al. but it generally requires longer treatment times and a more detailed analysis of lake limnology. Target analytes are then removed from solution by being Finally.. 2003)] on a lake.. Cr(OH)3)].. which induce mineral forma­ of the lake. so that a deep anoxic zone can form in isolation from the 2003) applications. Thermal stratification generally occurs each induced reduction of sulfate to sulfide in a lake (Castro et summer in temperate climates and can be a long-term al. 2004): treatment is required. ceases). Sb(OH)3. More als as sulfide (CdS. PbS) and reduction to a less sol­ stable stratification can also be induced by actively main­ uble reduced form [U(VI) to U(V).g. enhanced biological productivity increases biomass. and/or chemical reduction reactions reducing conditions at depth as it settles through the that remove metals from solution.. or perpetual treatment (e. lake (Pederson et al. Biore­ biologically induced reactions between organic carbon mediation is a relatively well-established alternative for and sulfate.2 Bioremediation and Induced Stratification of Mine Pit Lakes metallic sulfide (e.g. which can also be used to over a few seasons) and may thus be best where infrequent neutralize acidity (Frömmichen et al. Chemical reactions involve reduction saline than the deep water (Poling et al. where sulfidic wall sugars.. which leads to precipitation of dissolved met­ natural condition in very cold or tropical climates... CuS.g. which can effectively remove metals such as zinc and cad­ mium. Example reactions Direct carbon source addition has higher material costs.g. Nutrient addition has much lower 2CH2O (aq)  SO42(aq)  2H → H2S(aq)  2CO2 (aq)  2H2O material costs. Castro et. warmer and/or less Cr(VI) to Cr(III)]..g.. which isolates deep lake water from oxygen at the which stimulate the growth of aquatic biota (algae. loading solutes in runoff or al. or in very low-volume sludges may offer potential for more Engineering Issue 33 . 2003) often combined. rock remains above the lake.g. These technologies. ditions in lakes that remove target analytes by either transforming them to another form (e. CuS. 1999). adsorption. where sulfidic wall ● Organic carbon addition: the direct addition of rock is eventually inundated by the lake and oxidation soluble organic carbon reagents. Ideally. 1999) by direct sloughing). which adsorb and settle with detritus (Martin et al.g. 2003). sulfate) Where sulfide production is desired. they can contain concen­ trations of sulfate or metals that may be problematic.

34 Engineering Issue Results Island Copper Mine Pit Lake (Poling et al. Ethanol. Duration of monitoring: 1 year. 1987. nickel. Cr. NaOH (125 tons..000/yr and is treating be­ tween 4 and 6 million m3/yr of acidic inflow. with a range of 5 – 10 mg/L heavy metals and 500 – 2. and several years of active treatment.02 mg/L. and reactivity of organic carbon in the sediment.g. Inc.. and the efficiency of sulfate reduction depends on the reaction rate.g. Direct reduction of specific elements to less soluble forms (e.g. arse­ nic. selenium.5.000. water volume 241.2 to 0. If the water quality in the pit is sufficiently poor that the microbial community cannot thrive. Application of nutrient-addition treatment should anticipate a site-specific pilot test. cad­ mium from 0. pre-biological treatments may be necessary. and zinc from 5 to 0. South Dakota. Liquid nitrate and phosphate (N:P  6:1) added every 10 days to surface using a small boat. .05 mg/L. Duration of moni­ toring: 6 years. Sb) is less widely described and may require pilot-scale demon­ stration. and climate. lead. dimictic lake). copper. not published) Experimental Design In-situ pit lake (volume  65 million gallons. Duration of monitoring: 3 years.. For organic carbon addition. fresh water over a saline lake). neutral­ ization rate 6 to 15 equiv/m2-yr For induced stratification. Carbohydrate Addition Site Name and Location Gilt Edge Pit Lake. a supply of less dense water for Nutrient Addition maintaining a capping layer is generally required. Site Name and Location Koyne/Plessa lignite field. U. water salinities. tem­ perature. nu­ merical modeling to estimate dose rates.. Performance and Cost Data Examples are provided at right that demonstrate the tech­ nology in practice for carbohydrate additions (commonly sugar industry byproducts) and nutrient additions (typi­ cally nitrate and phosphate). adding sufficient organic carbon to remove ox­ ygen and then producing sufficient sulfide to precipitate the heavy metals in solution. (Arcadis. Martin et al.9 mg/L. For nutrient addition. the effectiveness of inducing organ­ ic carbon formation with nutrients can be estimated using standard engineering relationships for lakes (Thomann and Mueller. alternative. sug­ ar industry byproduct (Carbocalk).000 mg/L sulfate.3 kg/m2 wheat straw. and zinc decreased from above to below treatment objectives after treatment. In practice. Ongoing treatment is estimated at $100..000 m3 (and ~5 million m3 ARD added to deep layer). and cadmium from the lake while maintaining accept­ able water quality in the epilimnion layer. These are noted as pos­ sible future remedies for these often difficult-to-treat met­ alloids. and wheat straw dosed at 3. the effectiveness of nutrient addition will be limited in part by the organic carbon production rate.. Results Cadmium. The contaminant load was moderate. and sugar in three stages over a summer (producing ~100 mg/L initial dissolved organic carbon in the lake). USA...6 to 6. detritus settling rate. 2003) Field-scale pit lake. CEQUAL/W2 (Cole and Buschek. power plant cooling water) or less saline water (e. This Site Name and Location can be warmer water (e. 2004) Experimental Design Laboratory microcosm. Results pH increased from 2. 2003). Monitoring for excess sulfide in the pit lake during treatment was identified as an impor­ tant issue. The Experimental Design viability of maintaining an isolated deep layer of dense water can be evaluated with a numerical limnologic mod­ el [e. copper. 1995)] using site-specific parameters for bathymetry. but are not addressed further here. brackish epilimnion [a 5-m thick brackish layer is maintained over a more saline (seawater) hypolimnion]. alcohol.9 kg/m2 Carbocalk and 9. Se.targeted treatment of metalloids. permanently stratified with seawater hypolim­ nion. to increase pH). including copper from 20 to 0. As. Treatment produced effective remov­ al of zinc.g. Germany (Frömmichen et al. dosing depends on the stoi­ chiometry between organic carbon and the desired target reactions.

insitu bioremediation of mine pit lakes appears to be rela­ tively well accepted by the scientific community. tion of treatment data.com). and the mining industry all are increasingly focused on issues re­ lated to mine water treatment. 5. public interest organizations. and the rate of acid generation will change over time. indus­ try. Canada (Martin et al. In-situ bioremediation of pit lakes offers the potential in some cases for much lower cost treatment. Site characterization is critical and should address the following questions: ● ● ● ● What is the potential for reducing the flow of the water? What is the highest volume of water that will need to be treated during major events? What is the water quality. This emphasis is unlikely to go away. What level of data are required to accurately predict these changes? Finally. Duration: 1 year. on the order of decades and be­ yond.. 2004) and alcohols plus sugar (http://www. Successful carbohydrate treatments have been demonstrated using natural organic car­ bon (Frömmichen et al. this remains a research area. which then settle out.arcadis-us. each treatment technology presents different fi­ nancial and treatability considerations that may require pilot-scale testing in the field. The large majority of mine drainages will require long-term treatment. 2003) Experimental Design Microcosm using “limnocorals” in a dimictic existing pit lake. 2003). with site-specific conditions dramatically affecting implementability.4. public release and dissemina­ nology selection factors. Few walk-away options are available. The removal mechanism is adsorption of metals to biogenic particles. and continued research on new methods for mine water treatment. copper from 3 to 0. tech­ ally do the job requires continual technical and financial evaluation of each option. since the long term treatment costs can be Table 4-6 on pages 36 and 37 provides an overview of pit very high. and regulators. Engineering Issue 35 . Following several successful full-scale applications. and limitations.. and financial requirements for in-perpetuity treatment are a significant component to the decision on which treatment option to use. in order to demonstrate that it will indeed treat the mine water to acceptable dis­ charge limits over the long term.Nutrient Addition (continued) Site Name and Location Equity Silver Mine. and how does it vary seasonally? What are the regulatory discharge requirements? Many types of rock will only go acidic after several years. However.7. Addition of 0. Limnologic models are mature and have demonstrated the ability to reliably predict physical mixing and biological productiv­ ity in mine pit lakes.. British Columbia.g.1 µg/L. Results High nutrient loading produced dra­ matic increase in algal productivity in the epilimnion and efficient removal of metal cations (e. particularly using nutrient addition.. and nickel from 15 to 5 µg/L). 1. The state and federal regulatory agencies.0 CONCLUSION Each mine disturbance that is the source of contami­ nated water requires careful consideration of site-specific characteristics prior to choosing a strategy to manage the water. zinc from 150 to 20 µg/L. Nutrient addition with in­ duced stratification is providing ongoing treatment at the Copper Island Mine (Poling et al. of­ ten increasing for several years as the oxidizing bacteria become widespread. cadmium from 6 to 2 µg/L. Potential cost savings thus need to be weighed against current uncer­ tainty and associated higher potential costs for research and characterization. and 14 mmole P/m2/week. Confidence that a treatment option will actu­ lake treatment technologies covered in this section.

Can degrade quality in throughflowing ground water. Eliminates surface ex­ posure to all analytes Requires proximal source of waste rock or tailings for backfilling • Reduces or elimi­ • Depends strongly on nates further oxida­ the mine plan tion of rock below • Costs are low if water table partial backfill oc­ • Reduces the curs during mining. Alternatively. and metalloids Requires access to source of water.5 tion to detritus may – 1. This reduces the time for sub-aerial wall rock oxida­ tion and may reduce the rinsing of reactive rock surfaces into the pit lake. direct carbo­ hydrate addition can produce H2S. Primarily heavy met­ als: Cd. sul­ fate. heavy metals. Cu. Organic carbon can be created by adding nutrients. However. Accelerated Filling Surface or ground water is used to rapidly refill pit. water volume in the Backfilling from pit—important in rock outside the arid areas pit at $1/tonne or higher. Re­ active backfill may require amend­ ment to reduce acidity or other solute release. Sb. River diversion can allow rapid filling. a rapid volume increase could force treat­ ment earlier in time. Removes open surface water and access to humans and wildlife. i. Possibly metalloids As. precipitating metals as metallic-sul­ fide minerals. increasing costs. con­ tinuous operating ground water pumps are typically the pri­ mary cost Important Limitations . All analytes associated with wall rock oxida­ tion. Can significantly improve water quality over what would have existed by refilling by ground water recov­ ery.0 per kg require several • Ammonium polyseasons sulfate (10-34-0) • Metalloid removal solution and urea mechanisms are ammonium nitrate not well known (28-0-0) solution • Long-term stability prices depend on of metals in sedi­ local availability ments uncertain. • Most lakes strat­ ify naturally each summer. simplify­ ing isolation of the hypolimnion • Salinity stratifica­ tion requires saline lake and fresh-wa­ ter source • Production and re­ lease of excess H2S to the atmosphere can be a health risk • Access to lake is required for reagent addition • Metal cation re­ • Materials can be moval is typically significant cost effective • Carbohydrate (sugar • Removal by adsorp­ or alcohols): ~$0. Inducing reducing conditions can mobilize metals in sediments. while ground water pump­ ing is typically slower and more expensive. using either a low-salinity cap layer over saline lake or warm-layer cool hypolimni­ on.. periodic re-treat­ ment may be required • Inducing and maintain­ ing stratification requires dense deep water (saline or cold) and a supply of low-density water (fresh and/or warm) for surface layer. Sometimes difficult to ac­ curately predict the water quality that will result from rinsing backfilled mate­ rial. Pb.36 Table 4-6. and metals adsorb and settle with organic de­ tritus. • Rapid pit lake refilling may force poor water back into the ground wa­ ter system • Appropriate monitoring is required to fully under­ stand the impacts to aqui­ fer surrounding the pit Implementabilty Effectiveness Cost During refilling.e. Pit Lake Treatment Technologies for Hard-Rock Mining Engineering Issue Technology Name Critical Feasibility Factors Technology Description Target Analytes Induced Stratification and Bio­ remediation Lake is stratified. U. Zn. Se. Possibly SO4. • Several seasons of treat­ ment may be required • Carbohydrate addition is patented • Sulfide production must be closely controlled to avoid health risk Backfilling: Partial or Complete Waste rock and/or tailings are used to partially or completely fill the pit. Ni.

Critical Feasibility Factors Implementabilty Well-demonstrated technology using lime addition from either floating barge or amended inflow water Effectiveness Metals removal is similar to what is observed with con­ ventional lime treat­ ment—very effective for acidity and metal cations. and Ni.g. Se) Cost Highly variable cost depending on lake acidity.. Pb. Adequate mixing (natural turnover or multi­ level injection) is required to com­ pletely mix in oxygen (to oxidize Fe) to neutralize acidity throughout the lake depth profile. and sulfate. Primarily heavy met­ als: Cd. Sb. re­ ducing efficiency • Oxidation of ferrous iron is necessary for effective iron removal • Sulfate concentrations are below ~ 3. cost for de­ livered lime. Possibly metalloids As. Zn. As.Table 4-6. Sb. less effective for oxyanion metal­ loids (e. Pit Lake Treatment Technologies for Hard-Rock Mining (continued) Technology Name Technology Description Target Analytes Neutralization Lime or other neutralizing agents are added to the pit lake. and the method used to add the lime to the lake Important Limitations • Lime added to the surface may become coated. Cu.000 mg/L Engineering Issue 37 . Se.

Director MEND Mine Environmental Neutral Drainage U. National Risk Management Research Laboratory by Science Applications Interna­ tional Corporation (SAIC) under Contract No. does not necessarily constitute or im­ CN cyanide ply its endorsement. trademark. Boulder. The primary authors of this document were as follows: Glenn C. BC process. Mr. 68-C-02­ 067.S. Kyle Cook served as SAIC’s technical lead. Department of Energy United States Government. Houston Kempton. Environmental Protection Agency authors expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect EPA U. contact the ORD Engineer­ ICARD Drainage ing Technical Support Center (ETSC): INAP International Network for Acid Prevention David Reisman. OH 45268 Protection (513) 487-2588 NMA National Mining Association NNP net-neutralizing potential NRC National Research Council O/M operation/maintenance OSC on-screen coordinator OSM U.6.S. ABA ACMER acid base accounting Australian Center for Mining Environmental Research ADTI Acid Drainage Technology Initiative AGP acid-generating potential ALD anoxic limestone drain AMD acid mine drainage ANP acid-neutralizing potential ANSTO Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization APS alkalinity-producing system ARD acid rock drainage ASTM American Society for Testing and Materials British Columbia Reference herein to any specific commercial products. Office of Surface Mining PIRAMID Passive In-Situ Remediation of Acidic Mine/ Industrial Drainage PRB permeable reactive barrier PRZ permeable reactive zone RAMS Restoration of Abandoned Mine Sites RAPS reducing alkalinity-producing system RCRA Resource Conservation and Recovery Act 38 Engineering Issue . University of Nevada. Miller (lead author).0 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 7. and John Pantano. Colorado. Ed Bates acted as the EPA Technical Project Manager.S. Martin Luther King Drive MLK-489 NDEP Nevada Division of Environmental Cincinnati. Colorado School of Mines. EPA Engineering Technical Support Center NAG net acid-generating (test) NRMRL 26 W. Office of Re­ search and Development. The views and opinions of U. Inc. Mr. or service by trade name.0 ACRONYMS AND ABBREVIATIONS This Engineering Issues document was prepared for the U. Linda Figueroa. or favoring by the DOE U.. or otherwise. Consultant. Environmental Protection Agency. Doug Grosse served as the EPA Work Assign­ ment Manager. Butte. Reno. International Conference on Acid Rock For additional information. EPA Engineering Technical Support those of the United States Government. Ms.S. manufac­ BLM U.S. Montana. Integral Consult­ ing. recommendation.S. Bureau of Land Management turer.S. and shall not be ETSC Center used for advertising or product endorsement purposes. Lisa Kulujian was SAIC’s Work As­ signment Manager and Mr.

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gov . OH 45268 Official Business Penalty for Private Use $300 EPA/625/R-06/014 October 2006 www.epa.Office of Research and Development National Risk Management Research Laboratory Cincinnati.