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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Waste Management

Cut-off Net Acid Generation pH in Predicting Acid-Forming Potential in Mine Spoils


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 36 No. 3, p. 887-891
    Received: Oct 1, 2006

    * Corresponding author(s): shuws@mail.sysu.edu.cn
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  1. B. Liao,
  2. L. N. Huang,
  3. Z. H. Ye,
  4. C. Y. Lan and
  5. W. S. Shu *
  1. School of Life Sciences, and State Key Lab. of Bio-Control, Sun Yat-Sen Univ., Guangzhou 510275, PR China


Acidification of mine wastes can lead to a series of environmental problems, such as acid drainage, heavy metal mobilization, and ecosystem degradation. Prediction of acid-forming potential is one of the key steps in management of sulfide-bearing mine wastes. In this paper, the acid-forming potential of 180 mine waste samples collected from 17 mine sites in China were studied using a net acid generation (NAG) method. The samples contained different contents of total sulfur (ranging from 0.6 to 200 g kg−1), pyritic sulfur (ranging from 0 to 100 g kg−1), and acid neutralization capacity (ANC, ranging from −41 to 274 kg H2SO4 t−1). Samples with high acid-forming potential are generally due to their high sulfur content or low acid neutralization capacity. After the samples were oxidized by H2O2, the amounts of acid generation and the final NAG pH were measured. Results indicated that the final NAG pH gave a well-defined demarcation between acid-forming and non-acid-forming materials. Samples with final NAG pH ≥ 5 could be classified as non-acid-forming materials, while those with NAG pH ≤ 2.5 could be classified as moderate to strong acid-forming materials. Materials with NAG pH > 2.5, but < 5, had low risk of being acid-forming. The confirmation of cut-off NAG pH will be used as a rapid and cost-effective operational monitoring tool for the in-pit prediction of acid-forming potential of mine wastes and classification of waste types.

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