Evaluation of methods for controlling metals deposition in acid seeps and acid mine drainage treatment wetlands

Status Start Date End Date Locations
completed May 1, 2004 May 1, 2006 Daviess, Dubois, Greene, Pike, Sullivan, Vigo, Warrick
Director: Tracy Branam
Other Researchers: Ronald Smith
Funding: Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) - Division of Reclamation (DOR)
Issue: Abandoned mine lands generate acidic water laden with iron, aluminum, copper, lead, nickel, and zinc. These acidic water sources pose a threat to the quality of water downstream. Even areas that have been reclaimed using modern reclamation methods can generate acidic drainage. All known methods for treating acidic mine drainage require periodic maintenance and associated costs.
Objective: Since all metals precipitation systems need to have metal sludge excavated from them from time to time, it would be best for this metal sludge to be in a form that holds some commercial value. The objective of this study is to demonstrate methods for recovering valuable metals from acidic mine drainage by generating byproducts that have commercial value as raw materials for industry.
Approach: Bench experiments using mine drainage, bio-sorbents, and chemical treatment techniques will evaluate the methods best suited for the recovery of metal values from acid mine drainage in Indiana. New laboratory testing techniques allow us to monitor the effectiveness of various treatments and assay the quality of products formed during treatment. The most successful methods will be applied in a field setting to treat acid seeps. Data will be gathered regarding metals removal efficiency, optimum operating conditions, and product quality.
Products: The project will demonstrate treatment technologies that can be scaled-up for widespread application in abandoned mine land settings and will be published in a report.
Benefits: The products (commercial pigments for use in construction materials, absorbents for improving water quality, ferrite, or other raw materials) that can be produced from acid mine drainage metals will generate value from impaired waters that presently cost money to treat. The value of these useful byproducts will offset the cost of treating water contaminated with acid and heavy metals, and generate some revenue for mine reclamation programs. At the same time, the quality of water leaving the sites will be significantly improved.

IGS Helps State Improve Waters Impacted by Acidic Mine Drainage