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Acid mine drainage remediation strategies: A review on migration and source controls

Minerals & Metallurgical Processing , 2018, Vol. 35, No. 3, pp. 148-158

Li, Y.; Li, W.; Xiao, Q.; Song, S.; Liu, Y.; Naidu, R.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.19150/mmp.8464


Acid mine drainage (AMD) derives from the oxidation of sulfide minerals, primarily pyrite (FeS2 ), and is the most severe environmental issue facing the minerals industry. The most common short-term approach to AMD treatment is migration control, such as acid neutralization and metal/metalloid and sulfate removal, through the addition of alkaline materials, including lime (Ca (OH)2 ), limestone (Ca CO3 ), gangue minerals and industrial wastes. This requires the continuous input of materials and may result in the production of a vast amount of secondary sludge requiring further treatment and disposal. Addition of chemicals is usually more important in metal/metalloid removal than in sulfate removal unless the sulfate is present in very high concentrations. A more promising long-term strategy for AMD prevention is source control through the complete removal of pyritic minerals and encapsulation of potential risk minerals by coating with impermeable surface layers. This is regarded as the most cost-effective approach, although the mechanisms underpinning this and the implementation procedures are yet to be fully elucidated. It is likely that long- and short-term practices can be combined to optimize the remediation of contaminated mining sites. Some factors such as differing geological and mineralogical characteristics and transportation costs must also be considered for the successful implementation of AMD prevention and remediation strategies. This review also considers some implications for AMD remediation, but the promising bioremediation of AMD is not discussed as it has been extensively reviewed.