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Holistic remedial strategies for short- and long-term water pollution from abandoned mines

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Paul Younger


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Where mining proceeds below the water-table - as it has extensively in Britain and elsewhere - water ingress is not only a hindrance during mineral extraction but also a potential liability after abandonment. This is because the cessation of dewatering that commonly follows mine closure leads to a rise in the water-table and associated, often rapid, changes in the chemical regime of the subsurface. Studies over the past two decades have provided insights into the nature and tune-scales of these changes and provide a basis for rational planning of mine-water management during and after mine abandonment. The same insights into mine-water chemistry provide hints for the efficient remediation of pollution (typically due to Fe, Mn and Al and, in some cases, Zn, Cd, Pb and other metals). Intensive treatment (by chemical dosing with enhanced sedimentation or alternative processes, such as sulphidization or reverse osmosis) is often necessary only during the first few years following complete flooding of mine voids. Passive treatment (by the use of gravity-flow geochemical reactors and wetlands) may be both more cost-effective and ecologically more responsible in the long term. By the end of 1999 a total of 28 passive systems had been installed at United Kingdom mine sites, including examples of system types currently unique to the United Kingdom. Early performance data for all the systems are summarized and shown to demonstrate the efficacy of passive treatment when appropriately applied.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Younger PL

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Institution of Mining and Metallurgy. Transactions. Section A: Mining Technology

Year: 2000

Volume: 109

Issue: 3

Pages: 210-218

ISSN (print): 1474-9009

ISSN (electronic): 1743-2863

Publisher: Maney Publishing