Acid and metalliferous drainage (AMD) is broadly accepted to be a major global environmental problem facing the mining industry, requiring expensive management and mitigation. A series of laboratory-scale kinetic leach column (KLC) experiments, using both synthetic and natural mine wastes, were carried out to test the efficacy of our pyrite passivation strategy (developed from previous research) for robust and sustainable AMD management. For the synthetic waste KLC tests, initial treatment with lime-saturated water was found to be of paramount importance for maintaining long-term circum-neutral pH, favourable for the formation and preservation of the pyrite surface passivating layer and reduced acid generation rate. Following the initial lime-saturated water treatment, minimal additional alkalinity (calcite-saturated water) was required to maintain circum-neutral pH for the maintenance of pyrite surface passivation. KLC tests examining natural potentially acid forming (PAF) waste, with much greater peak acidity than that of the synthetic waste, blended with lime (≈2 wt %) with and without natural non-acid-forming (NAF) waste covers, were carried out. The addition of lime and use of NAF covers maintained circum-neutral leachate pH up to 24 weeks. During this time, the net acidity generated was found to be significantly reduced by the overlying NAF cover. If the reduced rate of acidity production from the natural PAF waste is sustained, the addition of smaller (more economically-feasible) amounts of lime, together with application of NAF wastes as covers, could be trialled as a potential cost-effective AMD mitigation strategy.
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