By Virginia T McLemore; Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration (U.S.)
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Extra info for Basics of metal mining influenced water
Relative rates of acid-producing and acid-generating reactions are controlled in part by accessibility of minerals that contribute to these reactions. Natural AD occurs in some specific geologic environments (see, for example, Plumlee 1999; Posey et al. 2000). Certain types of hydrothermal alteration, which accompany some types of hydrothermal ore deposits, have characteristic high-pyrite and low-carbonate concentrations that together foster AD. Recognizing these features prior to mining can provide many indications about anticipated water quality and local groundwater hydrology.
However, iron and manganese carbonates (rhodochrosite, MnCO3) do not provide net acid neutralization due to reactions that may occur later under oxidizing conditions. Oxidation of the released iron or manganese and the subsequent acid production by hydrolysis and precipitation reactions, as hydroxides, result in the precipitation of the hydroxide from solution. Some reactions of silicate minerals will neutralize acid, such as dissolution of potassium feldspar (appendix, Equation 32), plagioclase (Busenberg and Clemency 1976), epidote, olivine (Hem 1970), or muscovite.
In practice, leaching solutions may be acidic, neutral, or alkaline water, either heated or unheated. In deposits where ore-bearing minerals are sparingly soluble, oxidants such as dissolved oxygen or hydrogen peroxide and complexing agents such as chlorine dioxide gas, or CO2(g), are often used to accelerate leaching rates. In deposits where soluble mineral forms are solution mined, such as soda-bearing minerals like nahcolite, heated water is often sufficient for extraction. In either type of deposit, the host rock must be permeable enough to allow injected fluids to contact the ore-bearing minerals and also to be recovered again through boreholes.