Remediation of Acid Mine Drainage-Impacted Water

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Department of Biological Sciences


The formation of acid mine drainage (AMD), a highly acidic and metal-rich solution, is the biggest environmental concern associated with coal and mineral mining. Once produced, AMD can severely impact the surrounding ecosystem due to its acidity, metal toxicity, sedimentation and other deleterious properties. Hence, implementations of effective post-mining management practices are necessary to control AMD pollution. Due to the existence of a number of federal and state regulations, it is necessary for private and government agencies to come up with various AMD treatment and/or control technologies. This review describes some of the widely used AMD remediation technologies in terms of their general working principles, advantages and shortcomings. AMD treatment technologies can be divided into two major categories, namely prevention and remediation. Prevention techniques mainly focus on inhibiting AMD formation reactions by controlling the source. Remediation techniques focus on the treatment of already produced AMD before their discharge into water bodies. Remediation technologies can be further divided into two broad categories: active and passive. Due to high cost and intensive labor requirements for maintenance of active treatment technologies, passive treatments are widely used all over the world. Besides the conventional passive treatment technologies such as constructed wetlands, anaerobic sulfate-reducing bioreactors, anoxic limestone drains, open limestone channels, limestone leach beds and slag leach beds, this paper also describes emerging passive treatment technologies such as phytoremediation. More intensive research is needed to develop an efficient and cost-effective AMD treatment technology, which can sustain persistent and long-term AMD load.

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© 2015, Springer International Publishing AG. Publisher’s version of record: https://doi.org/10.1007/s40726-015-0011-3

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Current Pollution Reports