Blending of potentially acid generating (PAG) waste rock with non-PAG waste rock to create a rock mixture which performs as non-PAG is a possible approach to permanent prevention of acid rock drainage (ARD) for PAG waste rock. In 2012, a field weathering study using 300 kg samples was implemented at Teck Coal's Quintette Project located in northeastern British Columbia, Canada to test the prevention of acid generation in the PAG waste rock by dissolved carbonate leached from overlying non-PAG waste rock and direct neutralization of acidic water from PAG waste rock by contact with non-PAG waste rock.
After eight years of monitoring the experiments, the layered non-PAG on PAG barrels provided proof-of-concept that as the thickness of the PAG layer increases relative to the thickness of the non-PAG layers, acidic waters are more likely to be produced. The PAG on non-PAG layering has resulted in non-acidic water and no indications of metal leaching despite accelerated oxidation in the PAG layer shown by sulfate loadings. The study has demonstrated that the scale of heterogeneity of PAG and non-PAG materials is a critical consideration for providing certainty that rock blends designed to be non-PAG will perform as non-PAG in perpetuity. This is contrary to the standard paradigm in which an excess of acid-consuming minerals is often considered sufficient alone to ensure ARD is not produced.