Concluding Remarks

The current chapter discussed the impacts of mining activities on hydrology and AMD generation. Specifically, the role of mining activities including excavation, blasting and drilling on the hydrological systems and AMD formation were discussed. The impacts include the alteration of surface and groundwater flow directions, as well as the lowering of groundwater levels during dewatering or groundwater pumping to expose submerged ores. Furthermore, excavations and drill holes provide access points for the ingress of oxygen, thereby promoting in situ AMD generation in old underground mine workings. In situ AMD generation from old mine workings is particularly pronounced in water-limited environments characterized by strong wetting and drying cycles. Ex situ AMD generation occurs in waste rock dumps and mine tailings, which constitute a significant portion of mine processing wastes. Metallurgical processes involve comminution and use of strong extracting solutions which are likely to increase surface area for oxidation and formation of AMD.

The role of hydrology in AMD formation, mobilisation and dissemination was discussed. For example, on the one hand, hydrology plays a critical role in the mobilisation and dissemination of AMD and contaminants via reactive and non-reactive contaminant transport. Yet, on the other hand, the manipulation of hydrological processes and the water balance is used as a basis for the prevention of AMD using wet and evapotranspirative or store release covers. The lack of data on sub-surface AMD remediation noted in this chapter highlighted the need for further research. Moreover, most available data are limited to laboratory or pilot scale studies, while case studies of large-scale applications and their evaluations are largely lacking. Therefore, despite several research efforts on AMD, the legacy of AMD problems still exists globally.

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