Mines: Acidic Drainage Water

Authored by: Wendy B. Gagliano , Jerry M. Bigham

Encyclopedia of Environmental Management

Print publication date:  December  2012
Online publication date:  December  2012

Print ISBN: 9781439829271
eBook ISBN: 9781351235860
Adobe ISBN:


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Acid mine drainage refers to metal-rich sulfuric acid solutions released from mine tunnels, open pits, and waste rock piles. These solutions can seriously degrade water quality and harm aquatic life when discharged into streams and lakes. Acid production arises from the oxidative dissolution of sulfide minerals, such as pyrite [FeS2], through exposure to air, water, and populations of acid tolerant bacteria. Successful prevention and treatment of mine drainage requires an understanding of many hydrological, geochemical, and biological principles.

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