Four Types of Water Pollution Caused by Mining and How Atlantic Pumps Can Help Reduce This

Mining and quarrying can have negative consequences if handled poorly. The incorrect disposal of water containing pollutants can result in both heavy fines and irreparable harm to a company’s reputation. More worrying, however, is the environmental impact of incorrect water disposal, which can be devastating to local wildlife through chemical pollution. With proper care, however, there are ways of reducing the negative impact that mining and quarrying have on the environment - as well as your business’s bank balance and reputation.

At Atlantic Pumps, we see environmental care as our key responsibility, and we work hard to ensure a reduction in the ecological harm that mining can potentially cause.

Four Types Of Water Pollution Caused By Mining

The damage that can come from mines and quarries comes in four forms:

Acid Mine Drainage

Acid mine drainage, (also called Acid Rock Drainage, or ARD) is a greatly magnified version of a natural process that sees the production of sulphuric acid as a result of sulphides that naturally occur in rocks being exposed to water and air.

When a quarry or mining operate excavate a large quantity of rock that contains sulphide minerals, a chemical reaction occurs as it mixes with oxygen and water, creating sulphuric acid. When the acidity of the water reaches a certain level, a type of naturally occurring bacteria - Thiobacillus ferroxidans - can occur, which accelerates the acidification and oxidation processes.

The acid then continues to leach even more trace metals from the rock. As long as the source material remains exposed to water and air, it will continue to create sulphuric acid. This process can go on for hundreds, even thousands of years.

Rainwater and surface drainage from the mine site will continue carrying acid away and depositing it in nearby water sources, including groundwater, lakes, rivers, and streams. This severely degraded the quality of the water, killing off aquatic life, and making the water unusable.

Heavy Metal Contamination

Heavy metal pollution is a result of metals including copper, cobalt, arsenic, lead, cadmium, zinc, and silver, that is contained within excavated rock, being exposed to water. Metals leach from the material as water rushing over the surface of the rocks and carries the metals downstream.

Pollution From Processing Chemicals

This is a type of pollution that happens when chemical agents like sulphuric acid or cyanide, which are used to separate target minerals in ore, leach, leak or spill from a mine site into local bodies of water. Such chemicals are highly toxic for both wildlife and humans in the area.

Erosion And Sedimentation

During the course of the construction and maintenance of roads, waste impoundments, and open pits, local soil and rocks are disturbed. When there are not adequate control strategies and prevention systems in place, exposed earth suffers from erosion, which can carry off a substantial amount of sediment into local water sources such as lakes, rivers, and streams. This results in a build-up of excessive sediment, which in turn clogs the riverbeds, and smothers watershed vegetation, aquatic organisms, and wildlife habitats.

How To Prevent Water Pollution From Mining

At Atlantic Pumps, we understand the importance of sustainability to the mining industry. We are always working to further reduce energy wastage from pumps, and are able to reduce energy use by 20% on the average site. Our new EnviroHub range of products has been specifically designed to prevent water pollution that can occur as a result of mining and quarrying. EnviroHub is a control system that enables companies to effectively monitor, treat, and report on onsite water quality.

Click here to look at the products we can offer you, or give us a call today to speak to a member of our team.

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