Hydrogeochemistry and microbiology of mine drainage: An update

Applied Geochemistry
By: , and 

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Abstract

The extraction of mineral resources requires access through underground workings, or open pit operations, or through drillholes for solution mining. Additionally, mineral processing can generate large quantities of waste, including mill tailings, waste rock and refinery wastes, heap leach pads, and slag. Thus, through mining and mineral processing activities, large surface areas of sulfide minerals can be exposed to oxygen, water, and microbes, resulting in accelerated oxidation of sulfide and other minerals and the potential for the generation of low-quality drainage. The oxidation of sulfide minerals in mine wastes is accelerated by microbial catalysis of the oxidation of aqueous ferrous iron and sulfide. These reactions, particularly when combined with evaporation, can lead to extremely acidic drainage and very high concentrations of dissolved constituents. Although acid mine drainage is the most prevalent and damaging environmental concern associated with mining activities, generation of saline, basic and neutral drainage containing elevated concentrations of dissolved metals, non-metals, and metalloids has recently been recognized as a potential environmental concern. Acid neutralization reactions through the dissolution of carbonate, hydroxide, and silicate minerals and formation of secondary aluminum and ferric hydroxide phases can moderate the effects of acid generation and enhance the formation of secondary hydrated iron and aluminum minerals which may lessen the concentration of dissolved metals. Numerical models provide powerful tools for assessing impacts of these reactions on water quality.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Hydrogeochemistry and microbiology of mine drainage: An update
Series title Applied Geochemistry
DOI 10.1016/j.apgeochem.2015.02.008
Volume 57
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) National Research Program - Central Branch
Description 14 p.
First page 3
Last page 16