Sediments As Indicators Of Wetland Efficacy In Ameliorating Acid Mine Drainage
Organization: The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Jan 1, 1996
As coal mining often results in the generation of acid mine drainage (AMD), careful planning and management of the water on such mines is required. A colliery in Mpumalanga recently sponsored independent research into the pollution-ameliorating potential of a natural wetland that has been receiving AMD for at least two decades. Samples of the sediment collected in the wetland were subjected to nine stages of sequential extraction in a determination of the distribution of the metal species present. The samples were then analysed for aluminium, iron, and manganese. The concentrations of sulphate-reducing bacteria (SRB) were also determined. The SRB concentration was found to increase with distance downstream (away from the source of pollution). An analysis of the sediment speciation data indicated that metal immobilization may be optimal in areas where the organic adsorption of metals is at its greatest. The analysis also provided evidence of the biogeochemical improvement of the water quality as the AMD passed through the wetland environment. The metal species present did not correlate strongly with the SRB populations; nor did the soluble species correlate with the species formed over long periods of time.