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Remediation Processes for Acid Mine Drainage

Sehliselo Ndlovu and Geoffrey S. Simate

CONTENTS

  • 7.1 Introduction................................................................................................139
  • 7.2 Classification of Acid Mine Drainage Treatment Technologies..........140
  • 7.2.1 Classification of Conventional Active Treatment Methods..........141
  • 7.2.1.1 Aeration............................................................................141
  • 7.2.1.2 Treatment of Acid Mine Drainage Using the

Neutralisation Process....................................................142

7.2.1.3 Treatment of Acid Mine Drainage Using

Sulphide Precipitation....................................................145

7.2.1.4 Treatment of Acid Mine Drainage Using

Reverse Osmosis..............................................................151

7.2.1.5 Treatment of Acid Mine Drainage Using Ion

Exchange Technology.....................................................152

  • 7.2.2 Classification of Innovative Passive Treatment Methods........155
  • 7.2.2.1 Constructed Wetlands....................................................158
  • 7.22.2 Anoxic Limestone Drains..............................................159
  • 7.2.2.3 Permeable Reactive Barriers..........................................160
  • 7.3 Concluding Remarks.................................................................................161

References.............................................................................................................161

Introduction

The prevalence of acid mine drainage (AMD) globally in the mining and metal extraction sector has led to the development of a number of treatment technologies aimed at minimizing and mitigating its impact on the environment. The major aim of these treatment technologies is to reduce the acidity and sulphate content of the water. Most importantly, the treatment methods should not give rise to new high volume and unstable waste products that could impact further on the environment. This means that each method must be aligned with a near zero waste ethos, generate waste that is safe and not a source of environmental pollution or if possible generate products of economic value that can be used or sold to offset some of the treatment costs. As a result, this would reduce the problems associated with waste disposal. The stability of the waste products, as well as the volumes produced should, therefore, be a major criterion in the development of a long-term solution for the treatment of AMD. The treatment methods should also allow for the generation of potable water that can be reused in the mining and metal extraction processes or used in the communities where these industries are located. This could include activities such as agricultural use and other recreational activities. Thus, the treated AMD should be viewed as a resource and, in general, processes with the most likelihood of producing recyclable products, and of minimizing the waste products so that safe disposal can be sustained, should be the main focus for research and development in AMD treatment. This approach which implies the reuse, recycle, and recovery of valuable products from AMD is widely discussed in Chapter 9. This particular chapter (i.e., Chapter 7) will look at some of the technologies that are currently used to remediate AMD.

 
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