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Novel use of ochre from mine water treatment plants to reduce point and diffuse phosphorus pollution

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Paul Younger, Professor Stephanie Glendinning, Dr Paul Quinn


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Treatment of polluting discharges from abandoned mines is producing large quantities of ochre (mainly iron (III) oxides) for which no major end-use has yet been identified. Newcastle and Edinburgh Universities are currently conducting research to develop and test novel field-scale methods for use of ochre for phosphorus removal from sewage effluent and land drainage. Phosphorus pollution is a serious threat to the water environment in industrialised countries, causing eutrophication, algal blooms, fish kills and loss of water resources. Our prior experiments have demonstrated that ochre is an excellent adsorbent of phosphorus from solution. The ongoing research will build upon this preliminary work to develop valuable uses for a low-value by-product of mine water treatment, with benefits for the mining and water industries and the water environment as a whole. The project will assess the performance of ochre for phosphorus removal in three settings: constructed wetlands for sewage effluent treatment; addition of powdered ochre to polluted standing waters (e.g. sewage treatment tanks, septic tanks) so that phosphorus is stripped out as the ochre settles; and treatment of agricultural drainage with ochre-filled filter and dosing units. We will also examine the fate of spent ochre from these applications, when the material is saturated with phosphorus, to assess its performance and environmental acceptability as a slow-release fertiliser and thereby develop a total use cycle for ochre. The paper presents results that demonstrate the potential of ochre for phosphorus removal and discusses current research into this method of ochre use.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Heal K, Younger PL, Smith K, Glendinning S, Quinn PF, Dobbie K

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Land Contamination & Reclamation

Year: 2003

Volume: 11

Issue: 2

Pages: 145-152

Print publication date: 01/04/2003

ISSN (print): 0967-0513

ISSN (electronic):

Publisher: EPP Publications


DOI: 10.2462/09670513.808


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