Effects of the co-disposal of lignite fly ash and coal mine waste rocks on AMD and leachate quality


Lignite fly ash (FA) and waste rocks (WRs) were mixed in three different ratios (1:1, 1:3 and 1:5) and studied to compare the effects of adding FA on acid mine drainage generation from coal mining WRs, leachability of elements and the potential occurrence of the secondary minerals. FA mixed with WRs showed significant differences in pH levels compared to previous research. The 1:1 mixture performed best of all the three mixtures in terms of pH and leachability of elements, mainly due to the higher proportion of FA in the mixture. The pH in the 1:1 mixtures varied between 3.3 and 5.1 compared to other mixtures (2.3–3.5). Iron and SO42− leached considerably less from the 1:1 mixture compared to the others, indicating that the oxidation of sulphides was weaker in this mixture. Aluminium leached to a high degree from all mixtures, with concentrations varying from mg L−1 to g L−1. The reason behind this increase is probably the addition of FA which, due to acidic conditions and the composition of the FA, increases the availability of Al. For the same reason, high concentrations of Mn and Zn were also measured. Geochemical modelling indicates that the 1:1 mixture performs better in terms of precipitation of Al3+ minerals, whereas Fe3+ minerals precipitated more in mixtures containing less FA. These results suggest that, with time, the pores could possibly be filled with these secondary minerals and sulphate salts (followed by a decrease in sulphide oxidation), improving the pore water pH and decreasing the leachability of elements. Since grain size plays a crucial role in the reactivity of sulphides, there is a risk that the results from the leaching tests may have been influenced by crushing and milling of the WR samples.

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The authors wish to thank the administration at Lakhra Coal Field and Lakhra Power Station, Pakistan, for providing materials.


This study received funding from the Division of Geosciences and Environmental Engineering at Luleå University of Technology, Sweden. Funding for the stay of the corresponding author in Sweden was provided by the Higher Education Commission, Pakistan.

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Correspondence to Asif Qureshi.

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Qureshi, A., Maurice, C. & Öhlander, B. Effects of the co-disposal of lignite fly ash and coal mine waste rocks on AMD and leachate quality. Environ Sci Pollut Res 26, 4104–4115 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-018-3896-8

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  • Coal mine waste rock
  • Acid mine drainage (AMD)
  • Fly ash mixing
  • Weathering cells
  • Element leaching