British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

Opportunities of microbial geochemistry in the bioremediation of mine-impacted water James, Rachel; Mancini, Silvia; Przepiora, Andrzej; Carlson, Trevor; Bechard, Karen; Risacher, Florent; Dworatzek, Sandra


Methods for conventional treatment of mine effluent are often costly and, in some cases, ineffective at meeting environmental water quality objectives. Microbially-mediated reduction and biotransformation of inorganic contaminants in mine-impacted water (MIW) can provide an innovative and cost-effective solution. This presentation will discuss two geochemical systems: anaerobic treatment of selenium and nitrate; and anaerobic treatment of sulphate and metals. One type of technology in which these processes can be implemented is a semi-passive biotreatment reactor called a Gravel Bed Reactor (GBR™). A GBR is an engineered biochemical reactor that has been proven to effectively decrease concentrations of metals, metalloids, other inorganics such as nitrate or sulphate, and organic chemicals through microbial and geochemical processes. The chemistry of MIW can vary widely including highly acidic or alkaline pH and elevated and variable concentrations of metals and inorganics. The ability to understand and control the target microbial and geochemical processes, and to adapt to influent chemistry are important considerations in designing and achieving long-term effective performance using biological treatment systems. This presentation will discuss the considerations and opportunities to applying microbial remediation as an innovative and cost-effective treatment technology at Canadian mine sites.

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