Acid Mine Drainage Assignment Help
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Acid mine drainage is generated by the natural oxidation of comparatively common minerals of sulphur when those remain exposed to water and air for a long time. The oxidation of pyrite produces sulphuric acid and ferric sulphate, and is responsible for the majority of ARD formation.
An Overview of Acid Mine Drainage
Acid mine drainage or Acid rock drainage (ARD) refers to the acidic water that is formed when sulphide minerals are exposed to air and water and, through a natural chemical reaction, produce sulphuric acid. Acid mine drainage has the capability to introduce acidity and dissolved metals into water. This drainage is too damaging to fish and all other floras and faunas. Averting and controlling acid mine drainage is a major concern at an operating mine sites and after a mine is closed permanently. Researchers are continuously in search of higher technologies to improve ARD estimation, prevention, and treatment.
Consequence of Acid Mine Drainage
Due to presence of huge quantity of sulphuric acid in acid mine drainage, the pH of water decreases drastically once sulphide oxidation starts. As pH of water gets lowered, ferric sulphide is oxidized to ferric iron which further oxidizes other minerals like lead, zinc and copper etc. Thus quantities of different toxic minerals go on increasing with time.
Occurrence of Acid Mine Drainage
Acid mine drainage formation is found naturally where sulphide minerals are exposed to the air. In fact, presence of ARD in surface water or groundwater is a good evidence of presence of mineral deposits somewhere nearby. It is known that Sulphide minerals constitute good proportion of rock in some geographical regions, and exposed deposits usually have a red or yellow cap of oxidized material known as a gossan.
The rate of production of acid mine drainage depends on the following factors –
- Surface area of sulphide minerals exposed: Sulphide oxidation and formation of acid mine drainage increases as the surface area of sulphide minerals exposed to air and water increases.
- Characteristics of minerals present: There are certain minerals of sulphine that get oxidized faster than the others. Thus the depending on the rate if oxidation formation of ARD varies.
- Quantity of oxygen present: Sulphide minerals oxidize more rapidly where there is more oxygen accessible. As a result, acid mine drainage is higher where the sulphides are exposed to air than where they are concealed under soil or water.
- Amount of water available: The entire process of moistening and drying also influences formation of acid mine drainage by dissolving and eliminating oxidized products, opening up a new mineral surface for oxidation. At the same time, greater quantities of acid mine drainage are formed in wetter areas.
- Temperature: It is known that Pyrite oxidation occurs quickly at a temperature around 30°C.
- Presence of microorganisms: Some microorganisms like bacteria enhances production of ARD at certain temperature.
Environmental Effects of Acid Mine Drainage
- It decreases the quality of water.
- It hampers normal growth of floras and faunas in different water bodies.
- Indirectly it affects the environment surrounding the water body.
Thus, where acid mine drainage enters surface water, it has very negative impact on the aquatic animals, insects and plants. The metals associated with acid mine drainage are sometimes found to be more damaging than the acidity.
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