Laboratory kinetic leach column (KLC) tests were carried out to define the conditions required to control acid generation from a highly reactive, potentially acid-forming (PAF) iron ore waste rock. It was found that lime addition (0.1 wt % blended) plus either blending of silicates (25 wt % K-feldspar and 25 wt % chlorite), or addition of a non-acid forming (NAF) top cover containing about 10% dolomite (PAF:NAF = 5:1 wt %), when watered/flushed with lime-saturated water, greatly reduced acid generation as compared to the control KLC (PAF alone, watered/flushed with Milli-Q water), but did not result in circum-neutral pH as required for pyrite surface passivation and effective acid and metalliferous drainage (AMD) mitigation. In contrast, the combined use of these treatments—blended lime and silicates with an NAF cover and watering/flushing with lime-saturated water—resulted in leachate pH of 12 (up to 24 weeks). Mass balance calculations for Ca2+
and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) analyses suggest that calcite or gypsum may have formed in the NAF-amended KLCs and lime with added silicate KLC. Although the combined approach in the form trialled here may not be practical or cost-effective, control of a highly reactive natural PAF waste by pyrite surface passivation appears to be possible, and an improved treatment methodology (e.g., slightly increased lime blending without the need for further lime watering/flushing) could usefully be examined in the future.
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