Acid Mine Drainage (AMD)

Posted on 8 Oct 2020

Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) is a worldwide concern which is also prominent within South Africa. The occurrence of AMD is a result of pyrite reacting with water within a mining cavity located beneath the Earth’s surface. The resultant water becomes acidic with elevated levels of lead, iron, and other heavy metals. The toxic water infiltrates both ground and surface water resources which leads to those water resources becoming contaminated and resulting in the degradation of the receiving environment. The effects of AMD are both social and environmental with both being linked. Ground and surface water supplies, which are used for domestic use, can be impacted on by the outflow and subsurface flow of the acid mine water which results in the contamination of surface water and aquifers which communities rely on.

 

The prominent sources of AMD comprise of:

  • Tailings;
  • Exposed rock surfaces and mine workings; and
  • Broken waste rock or ore

 

In order to effectively detect environmental impacts before irreparable damage occurs monitoring programs are designed as an early warning system. For the monitoring program to be effective and efficient the monitoring plan should include all the mine’s environmental concerns. The monitoring program should be implemented throughout the pre-operational, operational, and decommissioning phases.

 

The monitoring programs can be classified as compliance, diagnostic or investigative. Compliance monitoring is the routine monitoring that is dictated by a regulatory authority as a condition to develop, operate, or decommission a site. Diagnostic monitoring focuses on potential pollution sources upstream of the compliance stations in order to act as an early warning system. Investigative monitoring is normally initiated by the holder of the authorisation/licence or required by a regulatory agency as a result of either non-compliance, spills or operational changes. The monitoring program should be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure the program objectives are being met.

 

Environmental Assurance (Pty) Ltd. (ENVASS) offers a wide range of services, including compliance monitoring, which can be utilised on your next project.

 

 If you may require a proposal for compliance monitoring please do not hesitate to contact our highly qualified and experienced specialists at ENVASS on 012 460 9768 or info@envass.co.za