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Hydrologic aspects of acid mine drainage.

Ladwig KJ
Control of acid mine drainage: proceedings of a technology transfer seminar. Pittsburgh, PA: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Mines, IC 9027, 1985 Jan; :12-18
Water is obviously a principal component of the acid mine drainage (AMD) problem, functioning as a reactant in pyrite oxidation, as a reaction medium, and as a transport medium for oxidation products. The role of water as a transport medium is the focus of one segment of the Bureau of Mines AMD program. Describing the contaminant transport process serves two basic purposes. The first is to develop site-specific characterizations of the hydrology, including defining recharge areas and flow paths, estimating rates and volumes of mine water flow, delineating lateral variations in water quality, and determining contaminant loads at the discharge. The site-specific data are critical to the success of any abatement procedure, regardless of the technical approach chosen. Efficient and cost-effective abatement requires knowledge of sources of spoil water recharge, zones of acid production, and movement of water through the acid-producing zones. The second purpose is to examine in greater detail the interaction between acid production and hydrologic transport. While field studies are by nature site specific, data obtained from several mines will be used to develop a more generalized conceptual understanding of the transport process. The conceptual model will then serve as the basis for improved reclamation and abatement technology. Of central importance in this phase of the study are (1) the interaction of the mine water with the other components involved in acid generation and (2) the hydrochemical evolution of the mine water. We investigated the transport process at both underground and surface coal mines, with most of the underground mine work being done in the northern anthracite field of eastern Pennsylvania. The purpose of this work is to describe the hydrogeochemical processes occurring in a flooded mine complex. The initial phase of this work was reported in RI 8837. The surface mine work was done principally at reclaimed surface mines in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Why reclaimed sites? The fact that many reclaimed mines in these States are still producing considerable volumes of AMD attests to the shortfalls of past and current reclamation practices. By monitoring these sites, we can examine what went wrong, determine what steps might be taken to deal with the current problem, and develop methods for avoiding similar problems in the future. Described in the following sections are results of a case study conducted at a reclaimed surface mine in West Virginia and a summary of the underground mine study in eastern Pennsylvania. The emphasis is on developing a practical monitoring program and then intergrating the site hydrology with the AMD abatement plan. While it is unlikely that simple hydrologic modification alone will eliminate the problem, a thorough knowledge of site-specific hydrology is fundamental to the development and execution of a successful abatement plan.
Acid mine drainage; Mining; Mining industry; Waste treatment; Waste abatement
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IH; Conference/Symposia Proceedings
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Control of acid mine drainage: proceedings of a technology transfer seminar
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division