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Mine Waste Rock: Insights for Sustainable Hydrogeochemical Management

Department of Geological Sciences & Geological Engineering, Queen’s University, 36 Union St W, Kingston, ON K7N1A1, Canada
Institut de Recherche en Mines et en Environnement, Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue. 445 boulevard de l’Université, Rouyn-Noranda, QC J9X 5E4, Canada
MINES ParisTech, PSL University, Centre de Géosciences, 35 rue St Honoré, 77300 Fontainebleau, France
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Minerals 2020, 10(9), 728;
Received: 7 July 2020 / Revised: 16 August 2020 / Accepted: 17 August 2020 / Published: 19 August 2020
Mismanagement of mine waste rock can mobilize acidity, metal (loid)s, and other contaminants, and thereby negatively affect downstream environments. Hence, strategic long-term planning is required to prevent and mitigate deleterious environmental impacts. Technical frameworks to support waste-rock management have existed for decades and typically combine static and kinetic testing, field-scale experiments, and sometimes reactive-transport models. Yet, the design and implementation of robust long-term solutions remains challenging to date, due to site-specificity in the generated waste rock and local weathering conditions, physicochemical heterogeneity in large-scale systems, and the intricate coupling between chemical kinetics and mass- and heat-transfer processes. This work reviews recent advances in our understanding of the hydrogeochemical behavior of mine waste rock, including improved laboratory testing procedures, innovative analytical techniques, multi-scale field investigations, and reactive-transport modeling. Remaining knowledge-gaps pertaining to the processes involved in mine waste weathering and their parameterization are identified. Practical and sustainable waste-rock management decisions can to a large extent be informed by evidence-based simplification of complex waste-rock systems and through targeted quantification of a limited number of physicochemical parameters. Future research on the key (bio)geochemical processes and transport dynamics in waste-rock piles is essential to further optimize management and minimize potential negative environmental impacts. View Full-Text
Keywords: mine waste; drainage; water quality; geochemistry; hydrogeology; modelling mine waste; drainage; water quality; geochemistry; hydrogeology; modelling
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MDPI and ACS Style

Vriens, B.; Plante, B.; Seigneur, N.; Jamieson, H. Mine Waste Rock: Insights for Sustainable Hydrogeochemical Management. Minerals 2020, 10, 728.

AMA Style

Vriens B, Plante B, Seigneur N, Jamieson H. Mine Waste Rock: Insights for Sustainable Hydrogeochemical Management. Minerals. 2020; 10(9):728.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Vriens, Bas, Benoît Plante, Nicolas Seigneur, and Heather Jamieson. 2020. "Mine Waste Rock: Insights for Sustainable Hydrogeochemical Management" Minerals 10, no. 9: 728.

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