Comparison of Water Quality from Fifteen Underground Coal Mines in 1968 and 1999

Demchak, J. ; Skousen, J. ; Bryant, G. ; Ziemkiewicz, P.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 10
Publication Date: Jan 1, 2000
Acid mine drainage (AMD) from both abandoned surface and underground mines is a serious problem. The flow of water and changes in quality over time from abandoned mines is important in determining remediation strategies. Acid mine drainage from surface mines is estimated to last for 10-20 years, while estimates of acid drainage from underground mines vary from 10- 100s of years. Fifteen underground mine discharges in West Virginia were studied to compare water quality changes between 1968 and 1999 to see if our data are consistent with other studies. Each of the discharges were categorized into one of three groups: undisturbed since 1968, affected by surface mining since 1968, and reclaimed. Comparing water quality between 1968 and 1999, the discharges in the undisturbed category showed a 35 to 95% improvement in acid concentration and a 40 to 99% reduction in iron concentration. The discharges affected by surface mining showed the most dramatic improvement. For acidity, iron, and aluminum, the percent improvements were all above 44%, and in most cases in the 70 to 99% range. In the reclaimed category, one of the four discharges declined in water quality. Discharge 82 showed a 76% increase in acidity, and iron and aluminum concentrations worsened by 58 and 96%. However, discharges 15 and 74 improved in water quality with a 94% acid load improvement and a 95% iron load improvement at both sites.
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