Discussion - Lime substitutes for the treatment of acid mine drainage - by G.W. Heunisch Technical Papers, MINING ENGINEERING, Vol. 39, No. 1 January 1987, pp. 99-96

Carmody, G. A. ; Anderson, L. B.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 1
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1988
We wish to comment on the paper by G.W. Heunisch (MINING ENGINEERING, January 1987), which raised several important points regarding treatment of acidic waste waters. This paper confirms, in part, tests carried out by Allyn Corp. Allyn is the manufacturer of the proprietary product Alka-Ment, one of the materials that Heunisch tested. The first point is the extreme sensitivity of the sedimentation rate on the nature of the treatment material used. This apparently results from differences in nucleation of the metal hydroxides, and is consistently higher for Alka-Ment. This decreased sludge volume is also observed when Alka-Ment is combined with flocculants, such as organic polymers (see Table 1). Our second point is to emphasize that Heunisch's work shows how dependent the sludge volume is on pH. It is common practice to overtreat AMD by raising pH to 9 or 10. This practice, in addition to being wasteful of material, actually decreases the density of the resulting sludge, probably by creating charged particles that do not readily coalesce. When treating with Alka-Ment, we recommend that the treatment be monitored by testing both pH and dissolved iron. For both tests, it is important to allow adequate time to elapse between treatment and measurement, so that dissolution of alkali, aerobic oxidation of iron, and precipitation of the metal hydroxides are nearly complete. Our tests have indicated that from 30 minutes to one hour is commonly required. Only in this way can a minimum pH be attained, with adequate treatment, denser sludge, and lower treatment rates achieved. Thirdly, Heunisch correctly recognizes that ASTM titration of Alka-Ment does not reflect the true treatment value available in a unit of Alka-Ment. Our work at Allyn indicates this is a most important consideration when evaluating various materials for the treatment of acidic waste waters. While we were unaware of Mr. Heunisch's work, we welcome comparisons between Alka-Ment and any competitive products readily available for field use. Allyn has hundreds of hours of laboratory and field data we are ready to share with interested parties treating acidic waste water.
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