IWA Publishing

The economic pre-treatment of coal mine drainage water with caustic and ozone

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

Coal mine drainage waters are low in pH with varying amounts of iron and manganese and are generally brackish. The Austar Coal Mine in NSW, Australia, sought alternatives to their current lime dosing as the pre-treatment before the downstream reverse osmosis plant. Undesirable operating aspects of the current system include manganese and gypsum scaling/fouling, the need for anti-scalants and reduced water recovery. Thirteen processes for acid mine drainage were initially considered. The preferred process of caustic and ozone for Mn(II) oxidation was pilot tested at up to 0.74 kL/hr at the mine site. Under proper conditions and no aeration, about 81 per cent of the Fe could be removed (initially at 156 mg/L) as green rust. Supplemental aeration followed first-order kinetics and allowed 99.9 per cent Fe(II) oxidation and removal but only with a hydraulic residence time of about 47 minutes. The addition of supplemental Cu catalyst improved Fe removal. Ozone applied after caustic was effective in stoichiometrically oxidising recalcitrant Mn(II) and any remaining Fe(II). Control of the ozonation was achieved using the oxidation reduction potential during oxidation of the Mn(II) species. The use of caustic, followed by ozone, proved economically comparable to the current lime pre-treatment.

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