Neutralisation treatment of AMD at affordable cost
Acid mine drainage (AMD) has for many years been a major environmental challenge associated with the mining industry, especially in the Eastern, Central and Western mining basins of Gauteng. The aims of this article are to: (i) demonstrate the suitability of the sequencing batch reactor (SBR) system for both neutralisation of free acid and removal of iron(II), often the main component in AMD, using limestone, the cheapest alkali, followed by lime treatment for removal of heavy metals, and partial sulphate removal through gypsum crystallisation; (ii) compare the alkali cost of the alternative SBR system where limestone and lime are used for treatment, with conventional lime treatment, and (iii) present the capital cost of the SBR system.
The conclusions of this study are that: (i) precipitated calcium carbonate can be used for complete removal of iron(II) in an SBR system within 90 min reaction time; (ii) lime can be used for complete removal of heavy metals after pre-treatment with precipitated calcium carbonate; (iii) the alkali cost for treatment of AMD from the Western Basin will amount to R2.80/m3 in the case of limestone/lime treatment compared to R5.83/m3 if only lime is used; (iv) the alkali cost for treatment of 85 Mℓ/d acid mine water from both the Western and Central Basins will amount to R60 m./a in the case of limestone/lime treatment compared to R136.9 m./a if only lime is used; and (v) the capital cost for the SBR system amounts to R3.5 m. per Mℓ/d.
Keywords: Acid mine drainage, sequencing batch reactor, neutralisation, limestone