Bio-oxidation Heaps and AMD from Waste Rock Dumps - The Importance of the Intrinsic Oxidation Rate
Organization: The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Jan 1, 1994
The pyrite oxidation rate is a process central to both the performance of bio-oxidation heaps, used in the pre-treatment of some refractory gold ores, and to the levels of pollution in acid rock drainage (ARD) from pyritic waste rock dumps. A goal in bio-oxidation heaps is to achieve high oxidation rates in the heap as a whole. In comparison, one way to mitigate the environment impact of ARD, is to reduce the overall oxidation rate in the waste rock dump since pyrite oxidation is the primary pollutant generation process. In both bio-oxidation heaps and waste rock dumps the overall oxidation rate of the pyritic material (the intrinsic oxidation rate) at these sites. Much research has been conducted over the last 40 years or so on the oxidation rate of pyritic material with particular emphasis on the catalytic role played by bacteria. More recently mathematical models and field measurements have clarified the extent to which oxygen transport rates are rate limiting, what the dominant oxygen transport mechanisms are and the physical properties of the heaps which have most impact on these transport rates and on the overall oxidation rate. How the performance of bio-oxidation heaps can be optimised and how the pollution load in drainage from waste rock dumps depends on gas transport mechanisms is briefly reviewed. The sensitive of the overall oxidation rate in bio-oxidation heaps and waste rock dumps to details of the intrinsic oxidation rate is quantified.