Effectiveness of the addition of alkaline materials at surface coal mines in preventing or abating acid mine drainage--Part 2. Mine site case studies

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Abstract

The effectiveness of preventing or ameliorating acid mine drainage (AMD) through the application of alkaline additives is evaluated for eight surface coal mines in Pennsylvania. Many of the mine sites had overburden characteristics that made prediction of post‐mining water quality uncertain. Alkaline materials were applied at rates ranging from 42 to greater than 1,000 tons as calcium carbonate per acre. In addition, two sites that were mined and reclaimed without alkaline additives are included for comparative purposes.

Overburden sulfur concentration and "neutralization potential" (NP) data for multiple strata at each mine site were used to compute the cumulative, mass‐weighted "maximum potential acidity" (MPA) and "net neutralization potential" (NNP = NP ‐ MPA) by using three different calculation methods. Post‐reclamation water‐quality data were used to compute the net alkalinity (= alkalinity ‐ acidity). The most conservative determination of NNP, whereby MPA is calculated by multiplying the total sulfur concentration, in weight percent, by 62.5 instead of 31.25, yielded the best agreement with net alkalinity (patching signs on NNP and net alkalinity). The error in prediction using each method was that the reclaimed overburden was computed to be alkaline overall (NNP > 0), but the post‐reclamation water was acid (net alkalinity < 0).

In general, alkaline addition rates were probably insufficient to neutralize, or too late to prevent, acid production in the mine spoil. At six of the seven mine sites that had overburden with insufficient NP relative to MPA (NNP < 0), the addition of alkaline materials failed to create alkaline mine drainage; AMD was formed or persisted. A control site which also had insufficient alkaline material, but did not incorporate alkaline additives, generated severe AMD. Two sites that had substantial, natural alkaline overburden produced alkaline drainage. Although the addition rates appear to be inadequate, other factors, such as unequal distribution and exposure of the acid‐forming or neutralizing materials and hydrogeological variability, complicate the evaluation of relative effectiveness of using different alkaline materials and placement of the acid‐ or alkaline‐producing materials.

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Publication type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Title Effectiveness of the addition of alkaline materials at surface coal mines in preventing or abating acid mine drainage--Part 2. Mine site case studies
Year Published 1990
Language English
Publisher West Virginia University Publication Services
Publisher location Morgantown, WV
Contributing office(s) Pennsylvania Water Science Center
Description 27 p.
Larger Work Type Conference Paper
Larger Work Subtype Conference Paper
Larger Work Title Proceedings of the 1990 Mining and Reclamation Conference and Exhibition
Conference Title 1990 Mining and Reclamation Conference and Exhibition
Conference Location Charleston, WV
Conference Date April 23-26, 1990
Country United States
State Pennsylvania
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