British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

Challenges posed by metal leaching and acid rock drainage at closed mines Price, William A.


Preventing impacts from metal leaching and acid rock drainage produced by sulfide minerals and their by-products is the most costly and time-consuming reclamation issue facing the mining industry. Challenges discussed in this paper include long-term performance requirements, large information requirements, a need for proactive detection, the need mutually satisfactory resolution of the concerns of the mining industry, government and the public, difficulties in predicting the metal leaching and acid rock drainage (ML/ARD) potential, high costs and the multi-disciplinary and highly specialized nature of ML/ARD work. To address these challenges and meet future environmental objectives, mines with the potential to generate significant ML/ARD need to: (1) conduct detailed monitoring and studies, along with regular maintenance and repair; (2) find new tools and make what we have work better, work cheaper, and work in the future; (3) develop contingency plans to address future changes and use caution in the absence of adequate understanding. Although our understanding of ML/ART is far from complete, this approach should ensure environmentally safe practices in the future.

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