Mine Water and the Environment

, Volume 30, Issue 2, pp 82–89 | Cite as

Field Trials of Low-cost Reactive Media for the Passive Treatment of Circum-neutral Metal Mine Drainage in Mid-Wales, UK

  • R. WarrenderEmail author
  • N. J. G. Pearce
  • W. T. Perkins
  • K. M. Florence
  • A. R. Brown
  • D. J. Sapsford
  • R. J. Bowell
  • M. Dey
Technical Article


This paper addresses the ability of five low-cost reactive materials to remove Zn, Pb, and Cd from Fe-poor, circum-neutral pH metal mine water in Mid-Wales, UK. Compost, fly ash, waste shell material, iron ochre, and a mixture of blast furnace slag (BFS) and basic oxygen furnace slag (BOS) were used in a series of small-scale passive treatment cells to assess metal removal from mine drainage initially containing, on average, 23.5 mg/L Zn, 0.5 mg/L Pb, and 0.05 mg/L Cd. Trial treatment cells contained between 1.5 and 12 kg of reactive media, had a 15 min residence time, and treated a discharge of up to 1 L per minute. Fly ash from a peat-fired power station was found to be the most effective material for metal removal, with concentrations reduced to 0.02 mg/L Zn, 0.0069 mg/L Pb, and 0.0001 mg/L Cd from over 1,000 L of water (between 98.6 and 99.9% removal). The other materials initially achieved high levels of metal removal (between 75 and 99.9% Zn, Pb, and Cd removed); however, all of the materials were saturated with Zn after less than 200 L of water had been treated. Metal sorption ranged from 21.4 mg/g Zn for the peat fly ash to 0.0015 mg/g Cd for the compost and BOS/BFS slag. The results of the pilot-scale field trials can be scaled to demonstrate that a modest-sized fly ash treatment cell (2.6 × 2.6 × 1 m) in size would be sufficient to remove 90% of the total metal load (Pb, Zn, and Cd) from this 10 L/min mine water discharge for a 1 year period. Importantly this research demonstrates that passive treatment for metal mine drainage can comply with water quality directives but cannot be considered a ‘walk-away’ solution; it requires modest (potentially annual) maintenance.


Circum-neutral mine water Low-cost reactive materials Passive treatment Wales (UK) 



The authors thank Mr Hughes of Trawsnant Farm, Cwmerfyn, for his interest in the project and allowing us such ready access to the drainage from the Bwlch mine. The authors also thank the Editors and anonymous reviewers for their comments, which have helped to improve the manuscript. This work follows on from studies commenced as part of the European Union Life Environment BIOMAN project (LIFE03ENV/UK/000605).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. Warrender
    • 1
    Email author
  • N. J. G. Pearce
    • 2
  • W. T. Perkins
    • 2
  • K. M. Florence
    • 2
    • 3
  • A. R. Brown
    • 2
  • D. J. Sapsford
    • 3
  • R. J. Bowell
    • 1
  • M. Dey
    • 1
  1. 1.SRK Consulting (UK) LtdCardiffUK
  2. 2.Institute of Geography and Earth SciencesAberystwyth UniversityAberystwythUK
  3. 3.Cardiff School of EngineeringCardiff UniversityCardiffUK

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