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Open AccessArticle

Documentation of Acidic Mining Exploration Drill Cuttings at the Pebble Copper–Gold Mineral Prospect, Southwest Alaska

1
Center for Science in Public Participation, Bozeman, MT 59715, USA
2
Center for Science in Public Participation, Chickaloon, AK 99674, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Environments 2019, 6(7), 78; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments6070078
Received: 1 June 2019 / Revised: 2 July 2019 / Accepted: 2 July 2019 / Published: 4 July 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Groundwater Quality and Groundwater Vulnerability Assessment)
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Abstract

During exploration drilling of the Pebble copper–gold–molybdenum (Cu–Au–Mo) deposit, drilling wastes were disposed of directly on the landscape or passed through unlined sumps prior to disposal. The ore and host rock are rich in sulfides, which weather to sulfuric acid with consequent metal leaching. Oxidized cuttings were visually evident, and confirmed with laboratory and field testing to have a pH of 2.7–4.3. At these sites, Cu and Mo exceeded or were at the high end of the natural background. With one exception, Cu was in the range of 545 mg/kg to 4865 mg/kg. Dead vegetation was observed at all sites with drill cuttings on the surface. Dead vegetation was also observed on sump soil covers, unrelated to drilling waste. Sites where vegetation had not re-established were from four to thirteen years old. The potential impact to surface and groundwater was not determined. Understanding the source and extent of damage from cuttings could lead to better site management. View Full-Text
Keywords: acid drainage; drill cuttings; mine exploration; reclamation; sulfide deposit acid drainage; drill cuttings; mine exploration; reclamation; sulfide deposit
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Chambers, D.M.; Zamzow, K. Documentation of Acidic Mining Exploration Drill Cuttings at the Pebble Copper–Gold Mineral Prospect, Southwest Alaska. Environments 2019, 6, 78.

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