, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 181-194

Origin of acid mine drainage in Enugu

Abstract

Mine flooding is a serious problem in the Enugu Coal Mines and has led to the abandonment of two of the four mines. About 1800 m3 of water is pumped out daily from the mines into the nearby streams. The source of this enormous volume of water has been established based on the hydrodynamics and hydrology of the area. It is shown that although two prolific aquifers—an unconfined and a confined system—overlie the mines, the mine water is derived principally from the unconfined aquifer. The pathway of flow is, however, provided by the numerous fractures connecting the two aquifers and the mine tunnel.

The major hydrochemical activity resulting in pollution of the mine water occurs within the sumps in the floor of the longwalls. These sumps act as oxidation chambers where groundwater from the fractures is mixed and subsequently reacted with sulfur-rich solutes released by coal mining.

Contrary to general belief, the mine drainage has not seriously degraded the chemistry of receiving streams. The pH, electric conductivity and, thus, the dissolved ions were increased less than 10% of the values in the unaffected region.