Weathering of Mine Wastes: Process, Characterization and Modeling

A special issue of Minerals (ISSN 2075-163X). This special issue belongs to the section "Environmental Mineralogy and Biogeochemistry".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 29 February 2024 | Viewed by 2062

Special Issue Editors

Geological Survey of Finland, Vuorimiehentie 5, 02151 Espoo, Finland
Interests: reactive transport; acid mine drainage; electrostatic interactions; low-permeability media
Department of Earth Sciences "Ardito Desio", Università Degli Studi Di Milano (UNIMI), 20122 Milan, Italy
Interests: hydrogeology; stochastic modeling; vadose zone; remote sensing; climate change
Centre de Géosciences, MINES ParisTech, PSL University, 77305 Fontainebleau, France
Interests: reactive transport modelling; multiphysics; acid mine drainage; uranium in situ recovery; radioactive waste; cementitious materials; geochemistry
Geological Survey of Finland, Neulaniementie 5, 70211 Kuopio, Finland
Interests: limnology; environment; lakes; environmental pollution; environmental changes

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Mineral exploitation may date back to more than 100,000 years ago. Socio-economically useful minerals generally represent a minor proportion (up to a few % in weight or volume) of the overall polygenic hosting rock blocks that need to be excavated to reach and process the valuable minerals. Given the virtually negligible net present value of the surrounding (“gangue”) minerals, it has been the rule since the cradle of mining activities to create mine waste.

The proper management of mine waste presents critical challenges for mine operators, governments, and citizens. The socio-economic impacts of mine weathering processes are very persistent, affecting the environment not only during the life cycle of a mine, but also in the post-closure period.

A crucial environmental aspect is related to the (biogeo)chemical weathering of mine waste, which can lead to a polluted drainage. In case of sulfide-rich waste, for instance, such drainage can be enriched in metal(loid)s and acidity. The prediction of the generation and spreading of such polluted drainage, as well as the design of their adequate containment actions, require an in-depth understanding of complex water/gas flow dynamics, transport of aqueous/gaseous solutes, water–rock interactions and mineral dissolution/precipitation, microbial processes, and possible alteration of the reactive waste material due to geochemical processes. This involves the applications of laboratory- and field-based experimental techniques, and models to sufficiently forecast future scenarios in a mine site as well as to analyze the appropriate remediation schemes. However, the utilization of an optimal combination of experimental, modeling, and advanced characterization/monitoring techniques to rigorously study the complex coupled processes in mining environments as well as to make management decisions based on such investigations remains a big challenge.

This Special Issue welcomes high-quality contributions in the broad areas of mining hydrogeology, and geochemistry/mineralogy of mining waste/waste confining structures with emphasis on both fundamental and applied research. The objective is to compile recent developments in the experimental and numerical techniques as well as to document case studies applying different techniques.

The specific topics include, but are not limited to: 1) laboratory/pilot experiments, 2) field investigations, 3) advanced/innovative characterization/numerical methods, 4) application of (bio)geochemical and (single/multi-phase) reactive transport modeling, 5) application of machine learning/artificial intelligence algorithms in mining environments, and 6) influence of meteorological conditions under a changing climate.

Dr. Muhammad Muniruzzaman
Dr. Daniele Pedretti
Dr. Nicolas Seigneur
Dr. Tommi Kauppila
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Minerals is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • acid mine drainage
  • acid rock drainage
  • mine waste
  • reactive transport
  • polluted drainage
  • metal leaching

Published Papers (2 papers)

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Research

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29 pages, 27949 KiB  
Article
Cross-Hole and Vadose-Zone Infiltration Tracer Test Analyses to Determine Aquifer Reactive Transport Parameters at a Former Uranium Mill Site (Grand Junction, Colorado)
Minerals 2023, 13(7), 947; https://doi.org/10.3390/min13070947 - 15 Jul 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 758
Abstract
The U.S. Department of Energy Office of Legacy Management is responsible for the long-term care and maintenance of former uranium mill sites in the United States. Prior predictions of site flushing times (monitored natural attenuation) are not being met due to the presence [...] Read more.
The U.S. Department of Energy Office of Legacy Management is responsible for the long-term care and maintenance of former uranium mill sites in the United States. Prior predictions of site flushing times (monitored natural attenuation) are not being met due to the presence of secondary contaminant sources associated with uranium-rich sediments in the vadose zone and organic-rich sediments near the water table below and near former mill tailings (tailings have been moved to a separate disposal site). Updated sitewide modeling for future releases of contaminants (including uranium) from these secondary sources to the groundwater need appropriate input parameters. To test field techniques, two cross-hole tracer tests and one infiltration tracer test were completed at a former uranium mill site in Grand Junction, Colorado. Reactive transport modeling was completed to derive physical and geochemical parameters. The observed data from saturated zone cross-hole tracer testing was adequately simulated using PHT-USG (reactive transport model) and PEST++ (calibration routine) with reasonable estimates of hydraulic conductivity, dispersion, effective porosity, cation exchange, calcite saturation index, and uranium sorption potential. The use of multiple layering in one cross-hole model was able to capture hydraulic conductivity variations with depth, which produced a double hump in the tracer concentrations. Estimated parameter values were very similar to prior estimates from column testing and single-well push–pull testing, except for a lower uranium sorption potential in one cross-hole test. This difference is likely due to the larger scale of the cross-hole testing including pathways with a lower uranium sorption potential. The infiltration testing released constituents from the vadose zone that can contribute to ongoing groundwater contamination. Modeling simulated the immediate release of these constituents to the water table similar to downward displacement of the existing residual porewater. Delayed drainage of the infiltration water was more difficult to simulate. However, the overall contaminant release concentrations from the vadose-zone secondary sources and ongoing groundwater contamination are adequately simulated for current site purposes. Additional details on vadose-zone processes may be needed if various remedial fluids are evaluated. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Weathering of Mine Wastes: Process, Characterization and Modeling)
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20 pages, 5872 KiB  
Review
Wastes in Underground Coal Mines and Their Behavior during Mine Water Level Rebound—A Review
Minerals 2023, 13(12), 1496; https://doi.org/10.3390/min13121496 - 29 Nov 2023
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Abstract
Backfill materials of various origin and composition, abandoned machinery, oils, PCB, gallery support material and cables are the main wastes occurring in underground coal mines during the period of their abandonment. Bearing in mind that under increasing societal pressure most if not all [...] Read more.
Backfill materials of various origin and composition, abandoned machinery, oils, PCB, gallery support material and cables are the main wastes occurring in underground coal mines during the period of their abandonment. Bearing in mind that under increasing societal pressure most if not all underground coal mines are going to close sooner rather than later, it is important to understand the interactions of these waste materials with rising mine water during mine water level rebound to prevent adverse environmental effects, especially on surface and groundwater. To this end, the composition of mine water at decant points as well as the hydrogeochemical, temporal and spatial dynamics of mine water during rebound requires quantification. In the first part of this paper, an overview of waste materials in underground coal mines is presented. The second part focusses on the experiences gained in the Ruhr area, a closed underground coal mining region in western Germany, where mine water rebound has been ongoing for decades. In this regard, the mine water modeling program Boxmodell was applied during regulatory approval procedures to predict the hydrodynamics and hydrogeochemical development of the water rebound. The results of these investigations allow deep insights into the interactions of rising mine water with wastes as well as the complex chemical evolution of mine water and potentially occurring contaminants (e.g., PCB). The experiences regarding wastes in underground coal mines and the geochemical evolution of rising mine water gained in the Ruhr area can be utilized to support the planning of mine closure in currently still active underground coal mining areas worldwide. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Weathering of Mine Wastes: Process, Characterization and Modeling)
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