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Modelling reactive transport of acid mine drainage in groundwater: Effect of geochemical processes spatially variable flow source location and distribution
KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM), Industrial Ecology.
2004 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Impacts from mining waste deposits on groundwater resources have been recognized invarious parts of the world; though varied in scale depending on the composition of mineralsbeing mined, the level of technology employed and environmental commitment of thedevelopers. Mining activities usually involve milling, concentrating, and processing of oreswhich will result in a huge amount of waste, called tailings, usually deposited inimpoundments as a slurry, composed of fine grained geological material (uneconomicalminerals), chemicals utilized in the processs, and water. Oxidation of these deposits, usuallycontaining sulphide minerals, may result in generation of an acidic, metal laden leachate,callled Acid Mine Drainage (AMD), which may have a devastating impact on thesurrounding groundwater resources.

In this study, the stochastic LaSAR-PHREEQC reactive transport modeling approach is usedin order to evaluate the coupled effect of geochemical reactions and physical heterogeneity ofthe subsurface in the breakthrough of acidity and metal downstream of the source while theAMD transported in the water saturated zone of an impoundment. The tailings depositcalled Impoundment 1 at the Kristineberg mining site at the Skellefteå field, in northernSweden, is used as a case study to simulate pH buffering processes and attenuation of Zn.The objectives of the study are 1) to evaluate the relevance of different possible geochemicalprocesses in pH buffering and Zn attenuation; 2) to evaluate the effect of spatial variability ofthe physical processes of the groundwater system on the breakthrough of contaminants; and3) to evaluate the effect of the location and distribution of the source zone in terms of thedistance from the impoundment boundary.

Simulation results of the presented model revealed that pH buffering from calcite andchlorite are important processes capable of counteracting the acidification from AMD.Dissolution of secondary Al(OH)3(s) is another important process capable of buffering pH.Precipitation of smithsonite, ZnCO3, is an important process for attenuation of Zn2+.Moreover, sorption of Zn2+ on ferric iron surfaces is found to be an important process forattenuation of the metal, depending on the available sorption surface sites. Flow variabilityhighly affects the breakthrough of the contaminants such that with increasing subsurfaceheterogeneity, earlier breakthrough of contaminants occurs. Moreover, increased variabilityresults in decreased peak loads, but longer duration of the load.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Trita-KET-IM, ISSN 1402-7615 ; 2004:14
Keyword [en]
Acid Mine Drainage (AMD), reactive transport, geochemical processes, flow variability, pH buffering, metal attenuation, groundwater, modelling, LaSAR-PHREEQC
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-32579OAI: diva2:411097
www.ima.kth.seAvailable from: 2011-04-28 Created: 2011-04-15 Last updated: 2011-04-28Bibliographically approved

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