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Performance of a passive treatment system for net-acidic coal mine drainage over five years of operation

Lookup NU author(s): Romy Matthies, Professor Andrew Aplin, Professor Adam Jarvis


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A full-scale passive treatment system (PTS) was commissioned in 2003 to treat two net-acidic coal mine water discharges in the Durham coalfield, UK. The principal aim of the PTS was to decrease concentrations of iron (< 177 mg L−1) and aluminium (< 85 mg L−1) and to increase pH (> 3.2) and alkalinity (≥ 0 mg L−1 CaCO3 eq). Secondary objectives were to decrease zinc (< 2.8 mg L−1), manganese (< 20.5 mg L−1) and sulfate (< 2120 mg L−1). Upon treatment, water qualities were improved by 84% in the case of Fe, 87% Al, 83% acidity, 51% Zn, 23% Mn and 29% SO42−. Alkalinity (74%) and pH (95% as H+) were increased. Area adjusted removal rates (Fe = 1.49 ± 0.66 g d−1 m−2; acidity = 6.7 ± 4.9 g d−1 m−2) were low compared to design criteria, mainly due to load limitation. Disregarding seasonality effects, acidity removal and effluent pH were stable over time. A substantial temporal decrease in calcium and alkalinity generation suggests that limestone is increasingly armoured. Once pH is no longer buffered by the carbonate system, metals could be remobilized, putting treatment efficiency at risk.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Matthies R, Aplin AC, Jarvis AP

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Science of the Total Environment

Year: 2010

Volume: 408

Issue: 20

Pages: 4877–4885

Print publication date: 06/07/2010

ISSN (print): 0048-9697

ISSN (electronic): 1879-1026

Publisher: Elsevier BV


DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2010.06.009


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