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Challenges in recovering resources from acid mine drainage

June 21, 2017

Metal recovery from mine waters and effluents is not a new approach but one that has occurred largely opportunistically over the last four millennia. Due to the need for low-cost resources and increasingly stringent environmental conditions, mine waters are being considered in a fresh light with a designed, deliberate approach to resource recovery often as part of a larger water treatment evaluation. Mine water chemistry is highly dependent on many factors including geology, ore deposit composition and mineralogy, mining methods, climate, site hydrology, and others. Mine waters are typically Ca-Mg-SO4±Al±Fe with a broad range in pH and metal content. The main issue in recovering components of these waters having potential economic value, such as base metals or rare earth elements, is the separation of these from more reactive metals such as Fe and Al. Broad categories of methods for separating and extracting substances from acidic mine drainage are chemical and biological. Chemical methods include solution, physicochemical, and electrochemical technologies. Advances in membrane techniques such as reverse osmosis have been substantial and the technique is both physical and chemical. Biological methods may be further divided into microbiological and macrobiological, but only the former is considered here as a recovery method, as the latter is typically used as a passive form of water treatment.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2017
Title Challenges in recovering resources from acid mine drainage
DOI
Authors D. Kirk Nordstrom, Robert J. Bowell, Kate M. Campbell, Charles N. Alpers
Publication Type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Series Title
Series Number
Index ID 70190131
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization National Research Program - Central Branch