Limitations of Acid-Base Accounting for Predicting Acid Rock Drainage

Scharer, J. M. ; Bolduc, Lysane ; Pettit. Carol M., ; Halbert, Bruce E.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 12
Publication Date: Jan 1, 2000
The ratio of neutralization potential (NP) to acid production (AP) ratio is often employed for predicting acidic discharges from waste rock dumps. The available NP was evaluated in laboratory studies of limestone dissolution in simulated acidic mine water. The available neutralization potential strongly depended on the particle size. Using limestone particles of 114" (6.4 mm) or greater, less than 20% of the total neutralization potential was exhausted at the onset of acid conditions. Apparently, the dissolution of limestone became mass transfer limited. Under mass transfer limitations, the rate of pyrite oxidation may exceed the rate of neutralization by buffering minerals. The implications concerning the controls on limestone dissolution were examined using a geochemical predictive model for sulphide mineral oxidation in waste rock. The results have shown that in case of heterogeneous waste rock piles the NP/AP ratio is a reliable indicator for short-tam predictions only. Kinetic data on the depletion rate of the neutralizing minerals and geochemical modelling suggest that waste rock environments with NP/AP ratios as high as 5.0 may turn acidic in the long term.
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