Mining, the environment and the treatment of mine effluents
The environmental impact of mining on the ecosystem, including land, water and air, has become an unavoidable reality. Guidelines and regulations have been promulgated to protect the environment throughout mining activities from start-up to site decommissioning, in particular, the occurrence of acid mine drainage (AMD), due to oxidation of sulfide mineral wastes, has become the major area of concern to many mining industries during operations and after site decommissioning. AMD is characterised by high acidity and a high concentration of sulfates and dissolved metals. If it cannot be prevented or controlled, it must be treated to eliminate acidity, and reduce heavy metals and suspended solids before release to the environment. This paper discusses conventional and new methods used for the treatment of mine effluents, in particular the treatment of AMD.
Keywords: acid mine drainage, high density sludge, lime neutralisation, mining environment, passive treatment, sulfate-reducing bacteria, environmental impact, mine effluents
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