Mine-water chemistry: the good, the bad and the ugly
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Contaminative mine drainage waters have become one of the major hydrogeological and geochemical problems arising from mankind's intrusion into the geosphere. Mine drainage waters in Scandinavia and the United Kingdom are of three main types: (1) saline formation waters; (2) acidic, heavy-metal-containing, sulphate waters derived from pyrite oxidation, and (3) alkaline, hydrogen-sulphide-containing, heavy-metal-poor waters resulting from buffering reactions and/or sulphate reduction. Mine waters are not merely to be perceived as problems, they can be regarded as industrial or drinking water sources and have been used for sewage treatment, tanning and industrial metals extraction. Mine-water problems may be addressed by isolating the contaminant source, by suppressing the reactions releasing contaminants, or by active or passive water treatment. Innovative treatment techniques such as galvanic suppression, application of bactericides, neutralising or reducing agents (pulverised fly ash-based grouts, cattle manure, whey, brewers' yeast) require further research.
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