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'Green' treatment of acid mine drainage - a step towards sustainability

Norton, Lisa, Baskaran, Karagaratnam and McKenzie, Trevor 2002, 'Green' treatment of acid mine drainage - a step towards sustainability, in Green processing 2002: International conference on the sustainable processing of minerals - proceedings, Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, Carlton, Vic., pp. 241-244.

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Title 'Green' treatment of acid mine drainage - a step towards sustainability
Author(s) Norton, Lisa
Baskaran, Karagaratnam
McKenzie, Trevor
Conference name Sustainable Processing of Minerals. Conference (2002: Cairns, Queensland)
Conference location Cairns, Queensland
Conference dates 29-31 May. 2002
Title of proceedings Green processing 2002: International conference on the sustainable processing of minerals - proceedings
Editor(s) Angie, Spry
Publication date 2002
Series Australasian Institute of Mining ans Metallurgy publication series ; no. 4/2002
Conference series Sustainable Processing of Minerals Conference
Start page 241
End page 244
Publisher Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Place of publication Carlton, Vic.
Summary Sustainability is becoming increasingly important in the mining and mineral processing industries and must incorporate the associated waste products. Acid mine drainage (AMD) is one such by-product and is one of the most serious environmental problems facing the minerals industry today. The oxidation of sulphidic mine wastes often continues for a substantial period of time after mine closure, resulting in difficult and costly remediation and rehabilitation works. Mining companies are often reluctant to spend increasing amounts of money on waste treatment when the mine life is limited or even finished. Hence a simple, low maintenance and low-cost method of treating AMD is required. Whilst this paper does not address the issue of AMD, it does propose methods for removal of individual species from AMD with potential benefits, including raising AMD pH.

A novel concept of using biosolids as a biological adsorbent, or ‘biosorbent’, of metals from AMD is being investigated at a laboratory/pilot scale level. Biosolids are a by-product resulting from the biological treatment of wastewater, and have been previously shown to adsorb metals from aqueous solutions. This could lead to an environmentally sustainable or ‘green’ method for treating both AMD discharges and disposing/reusing the biosolids.

The result of a laboratory-scale study of the biosorption of Zn(II) is presented in this paper. Physical parameters including reaction kinetics, mixing speed and solution pH were investigated. Solution pH also rose an average of 2 pH units over the 24 hour equilibrium time – a valuable side effect when treating acid mine drainage. The outcome of the study highlights the usefulness of biosolids as a biosorbent for the removal/recovery of metal ions from acid mine drainage. A simple, low-cost treatment technology requiring low maintenance would be beneficial to the mining industry to address some issues relating to AMD and would help integrate environmental and economic considerations into sustainable environmental management.
ISBN 1875776923
Language eng
Field of Research 090703 Environmental Technologies
Socio Economic Objective 970109 Expanding Knowledge in Engineering
HERDC Research category E1 Full written paper - refereed
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Document type: Conference Paper
Collection: School of Engineering and Information Technology
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