Although mine drainage is usually thought of as acidic, there are many cases where the water is of neutral pH, but still contains metal species that can be harmful to human or aquatic animal health, such as manganese (Mn) and zinc (Zn). Typical treatment of mine drainage waters involves pH adjustment, but this often results in excessive sludge formation and removal of nontoxic species such as magnesium and calcium. Theoretical consideration of the stability of metal carbonate species suggests that the target metals could be removed from solution by coprecipitation with calcium carbonate. The U.S. Geological Survey has developed a limestone-based process for remediation of acid mine drainage that increases calcium carbonate saturation. This treatment could then be coupled with carbonate coprecipitation as an innovative method for removal of toxic metals from circumneutral mine drainage waters. The new process was termed the carbonate coprecipitation (CCP) process. The CCP process was tested at the laboratory scale using a synthetic mine water containing 50 mg/L each of Mn and Zn. Best results showed over 95% removal of both Mn and Zn in less than 2 h of contact in a limestone channel. The process was then tested on a sample of water from the Palmerton zinc superfund site, near Palmerton, Pennsylvania, containing over 300 mg/L Zn and 60 mg/L Mn. Treatment of this water resulted in removal of over 95% of the Zn and 40% of the Mn in the limestone channel configuration. Because of the potential economic advantages of the CCP process, further research is recommended for refinement of the process for the Palmerton water and for application to other mining impacted waters as well. ?? Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.
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An innovative carbonate coprecipitation process for the removal of zinc and manganese from mining impacted waters