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A Multi-Phased Approach to Predict Acid Production from Porphyry Copper-Gold Waste Rock in an Arid Montane Environment

By
L.H. Filipek
L.H. Filipek
1
5061 Indiana Street, Golden, CO 80403-1743
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T.J. VanWyngarden
T.J. VanWyngarden
2
ACZ Laboratories, Inc., 30400 Downhill Drive, Steamboat Springs, CO 80487
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C.S.E. Papp
C.S.E. Papp
3
U.S. Geological Survey, Retired
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J. Curry
J. Curry
3
U.S. Geological Survey, Retired
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Published:
January 01, 1997

Abstract

Acid rock drainage (ARD) is a solution of sulfuric acid and iron sulfate, formed mainly by the exposure of pyrite to oxygen and water. ARD typically has high concentrations of other heavy metals that are toxic to wildlife and is the single most significant environmental problem associated with mining of ore deposits containing sulfide minerals. Understanding the processes that produce ARD and developing accurate methods to predict and prevent it are therefore key to environmentally conscious mining of such deposits.

The chemical reactions involved in pyrite oxidation are discussed in detail by Nordstrom and Alpers (1999). Several factors affect the kinetics of pyrite oxidation and, thus, the formation of ARD. They include the rate of transportation of oxidant (oxygen or iron (III)) to the surface of the pyrite grain; the chemistry of any solution in contact with the pyrite; the presence of oxidizing bacteria; the morphology, crystallinity, and trace-element content of the pyrite; and the mineralogy of neighboring grains. Once pyrite has been oxidized, reaction with calcium and magnesium carbonates or with rapidly weathering basic silicates can neutralize the acid produced. The interplay of the factors that control the oxidation and neutralization processes ultimately determines whether ARD will occur.

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Contents

Reviews

The Environmental Geochemistry of Mineral Deposits: Part A: Processes, Techniques, and Health Issues Part B: Case Studies and Research Topics

G.S. Plumlee
G.S. Plumlee
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M.J. Logsdon
M.J. Logsdon
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L.F. Filipek
L.F. Filipek
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Society of Economic Geologists
Volume
6
ISBN electronic:
9781629490137
Publication date:
January 01, 1997

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