A new system that can prove to be a weapon in the recovery of rivers with severe contamination levels caused by mining activity. The pioneering proposal is being tested in the Odiel basin. The work has been evolving thanks to the LIFE ETAD project, co-financed by the European Union, with the participation of the company Sacyr Construcción, in the quality of engagement partner, the Consejería de Medio Ambiente, through Agencia de Medio Ambiente y Agua and the University of Huelva. José Miguel Nieto, the researcher of the University of Huelva in charge of the project, explained that the mine acid waters are “the result of the interaction of water with sulphides and mine waste, filled with acid and metals” that end up in the river basins contaminating the water, as in the case of the rivers Tinto and Odiel in Huelva.

For this reason, the developed system, that presented positive laboratory results, applies a treatment that “allows turning these contaminated waters into clean waters, in an ecological, low cost manner”.

The project is considered “ecological”, because “it does not consume electricity nor reagents”, it is thus a “passive treatment”, with “zero” energy cost, since the design of the equipments has been thought to work by means of gravity, which allows the water to flow from a part of the system to the other and the cost of consumables to be minimum, since only small grains of limestone and calcium carbonate are used as reactive substrate”.

For this reason, Nieto ensures that this treatment system opens decontamination possibilities (once the patent is registered) for many rivers with a similar problem to those of the Iberian Pyrite Belt, while the expected result is to state the viability of passive technologies for acid mine drainage, the improvement of the quality of the water in the area and the use of new technologies that would solve a serious environmental problem of waters affected by the mining activity.

 

Source: Energiaverde.com

The contamination of rivers, consequence of the mining activity that took place for years in the past in the surrounding areas, might have run its course, thanks to a new ecologic water treatment, that will be implemented for the first time in the basin of the Odiel river in Huelva.

The work has been evolving thanks to the LIFE ETAD project, co-financed by the European Union, with the participation of the company Sacyr Construcción, in the quality of engagement partner, the Consejería de Medio Ambiente, through Agencia de Medio Ambiente y Agua and the University of Huelva. Speaking to Efe, José Miguel Nieto, the researcher of the University of Huelva in charge of the project, explained that the mine acid waters are “the result of the interaction of water with sulphides and mine waste, filled with acid and metals” and that end up in the river basins contaminating the water, as in the case of the rivers Tinto and Odiel in Huelva.

 For this reason, the developed system, that presented positive results both in laboratory and in small scale on the field, applies a treatment that “allows turning these contaminated waters into clean waters, in an ecological, low cost manner”.

Ecological, because it does not consume electricity nor reagents”, it is a “passive treatment”, the “energy cost” is “zero, since the design of the equipments has been thought to work by means of gravity, the water to flow from a part of the system to the other and the cost of consumables to be minimum, since only small grains of limestone and calcium carbonate are used as reactive substrate”.

Presently, researchers are committed to collecting data that will allow sizing the equipments to be installed by Sacyr in 2015 in the upper part of the Odiel basin, and are confident about beginning to  monitor the results by the end of the year.

In the referred plant, the water PH levels close to 3 - the level to be found in contaminated rivers - will be risen above 6, a level in which the dissolved metals precipitate, with resource to reactive filters to which a technological innovation has been applied to prevent these filters from collapsing.   

Nieto highlighted that the novelty of this system is its technological innovation: “This passive treatment system had already been tested for metal contaminated waters derived from the coal extraction in mines in the USA, Canada and England, but as the filters blocked and lost their permeability which stopped water from flowing, it was only possible to make this process last for a week”.

“The technical innovation, in our case, consists of applying a system that allows, at the same time that metals are precipitated, as the filters lose their primary porosity, they generate a secondary one by means of dissolution”, he explained.

With a patent in register proceedings, Nieto ensures that this treatment system opens the possibility to decontaminate many rivers with a similar problem to those of the Iberian Pyrite Belt and stresses the fact that the system has already drawn the attention of South American countries, of South Africa and of Japan. The previewed results state, for that reason, the viability of passive technologies for acid mine drainage, the improvement of the quality of the water in the area and the use of new technologies that would solve a serious environmental problem of waters affected by the mining activity.

 

Source: EFEverde

The province of Huelva is not only responsible for some of the most suggestive and even enigmatic worldwide landscapes. It is also an authentic gruyère. The mining activity performed for more than 2.000 years in the Iberian Pyrite Belt (FPI) that crosses it, is the responsible for what is presently considered an authentic jigsaw. The result of that mining industry – there is presently an estimated 100 abandoned mines – is a countless number of slag heaps and pits, which are a serious environmental problem that reaches even Atlantic waters. The phenomenon, which took place for centuries, consists of acid mine drainage – AMD – which have never stopped being produced in those areas. This drainage consists of water that undergoes an alteration of its PH to acid levels which nullifies its potability. This AMD produces acidity, sulphates, metals and toxic metalloids which are to be found in those slag heaps and are subject to a natural oxidation process.

The basins of the main rivers in the Huelva region have all been affected by that phenomenon, although the Odiel river undergone the most detrimental effects. The Andévalo district, located in the west side of the province, counts on the greater number of abandoned mine explorations.  

The teacher responsible for the Geology subject at the University of Huelva (UHU), José Miguel Nieto Liñán, is in charge of setting up the Life-Etad project, financed by the European Union with more than 2.5 million Euros and an completion time till 2017. The teacher explains that “the cleaning process of water deriving from the mining activity is not something new; the Aguas Teñidas mine, a quarry presently operating, owned by the company Matsa does it already”. Nevertheless, the project goes much further than that. It aims at providing an integral response to AMD at affordable costs. This is translated by the system that the Life-Etad project pursues: a passive treatment with a strong ecological inspiration, which aims at using that water as an irrigation resource for vineyards and citrus production and positions it at levels that establish the pre-potability requirements. Nieto stresses the innovation of the project: “Japan counts on an area of 80 mines that pour acid waters, actively treated, a totally different level from our proposal.”

The process that allows such purity level of water consists of a decantation system in which the reactive reservoir acquires special relevance and has the goal of rising the PH with which the metals precipitate to the bottom of that reservoir. This contains an under soil container with a reactive inside, filled with wood chips and calcareous sand or magnesia. When the water flows through the reactive inside, the limestone dissolves generating thus alkalinity and the consequent rise of the PH. In that moment, the precipitation of the iron and aluminium hydrosulphates is induced, with which, by means of absorption or co-precipitation, a great part of the remaining metals is retained: arsenic, copper, lead, that is to say, the most present metals in the Iberian Pyrite Belt. The decantation process, in which metals will go on being retained, will continue in the subsequent settling tanks.

This is not the first time that a passive treatment is used, but the goal is to achieve more efficient results than the ones that have been reached so far. This is, in the end, the follow up of research previously conducted: Anoxic Limestone Drains (ALD), the Alkalinity Producing Systems or the Sulphate Reducing Bioreactors, which would require a relatively low maintenance cost but are not adequate to drainage with high metal load as the ones to be found at the Iberian Pyrite Belt.

One of the objectives that remains unclear is the location for the development of the project. Although experts have not still come to an understanding, most probable the choice will be Mina Concepción, on the edge of Almonaster la Real, county of Huelva.

The Life projects are purely environmental and deal with other topics as the protection of the lynx. The Junta de Andalucía and the company Sacyr also participate in the project that presently draws our attention.

 

Source: Saber Universidad

The University of Huelva (UHU) is committed to fulfil an optimisation project of those which are known as acid waters of the mining operations to convert them in an irrigation resource for vineyards and citrus production. Although the purification of mining discharges is not a new topic, the method that is to be applied through the Life-Etad project ensures environmental and economical sustainability. The province of Huelva is an authentic emmental cheese. The mining activity that took place for more than 2.000 years in the Iberian Pyrite Belt (FPI) that crosses the province is the responsible for what is presently considered an authentic jigsaw.

The result of that mine industry – there is presently an estimated 100 abandoned mines – is a countless number of slag heaps and pits, which are a serious environmental problem that reaches even Atlantic waters. The phenomenon, which took place for centuries, consists of acid mine drainage – AMD – which have never stopped being produced in those areas. This drainage consists of water that undergoes an alteration of its PH to acid levels which nullifies its potability. This AMD produces acidity, sulphates, metals and toxic metalloids which are to be found in those slag heaps and are subject to a natural oxidation process. The basins of the main rivers in the Huelva region have all been affected by that phenomenon, although the Odiel river undergone the most detrimental effects. The basins of the main rivers in the Huelva region have all been affected by that phenomenon, although the Odiel river undergone the most detrimental effects. The Andévalo distrct, located in the west side of the province, counts on the greater number of abandoned mine explorations. The teacher responsible for the Geology subject at the University of Huelva (UHU), José Miguel Nieto Liñán, is in charge of setting up the Life-Etad project, financed by the European Union with over 2.5 million Euros and an completion time till 2017. The teacher explains that “the cleaning process of water deriving from the mining activity is not something new; the Aguas Teñidas mine, quarry presently operating, owned by the company Matsa does it already”. Nevertheless, the project goes much further than that. It aims at providing an integral response to AMD at affordable costs. This is translated by the system that the Life-Etad project pursues: a passive treatment with a strong ecological inspiration, which aims at using that water as an irrigation resource for vineyards and citrus production, and positions it at levels that establish the pre-potability requirements. Nieto stresses the innovation of the project: “Japan counts on an area of 80 mines that pour acid waters, actively treated, a totally different level from our proposal.”

The process that allows such purity level of water consists of a decantation system in which the reactive reservoir acquires special relevance and has the goal of rising the PH with which the metals precipitate to the bottom of that reservoir. One of the objectives that remains unclear is the location for the development of the project. Although experts have not still come to an understanding, most probable the choice will be Mina Concepción, in Almonaster la Real. The Life projects are purely environmental and deal with other topics as the protection of the lynx. The Junta de Andalucía and the company Sacyr also participates in the project that presently draws our attention.

 

Source: Huelva Información

The European Commission approved the LIFE ETAD project (Ecological Treatment of Acid Drainage), which will allow the development and implementation of a new purifying method of water derived from mines. In this project, which counts on a 2.650.738 million Euros budget and an completion time till December 2017, participate the Consejería de Medio Ambiente y Ordenación del Territorio through Agencia de Medio Ambiente y Agua,  Sacyr Construcción and the University of Huelva, and thus contribute to attain the goals of the National Hydrological Plan of the Tinto, Odiel and Piedras rivers. Likewise, purified waters are to be achieved to be used as irrigation resource for vineyards and citrus production, a feasible alternative in the affected areas. An innovation has been the station’s basic equipment designed to run by means of gravity, which avoids electricity consumption.

The results previewed state the capacity of full scale passive technologies as feasible treatment of acid mine drainage, the improvement of the water quality in the area and the resource to technologies that would solve a serious environmental problem that affects water degraded by the mining activity, both in Andalucía and in other locations in Europe, since the Life Etad project aims at presenting itself as a reference pilot project for other areas affected by similar problems in the European continent.

The intense miner activity performed in the Iberian Pyrite Belt resulted in abandoned mines and mining waste in slag heaps, sludge deposits, open air pits, etc. These degraded areas are the main contamination source of both surface and ground waters in the Odiel basin, due to the acid drainage they generate. The acid mine drainage (AMD) consist of water that undergoes an alteration of its PH to acid levels. The research for new treatment methods for this acid water is crucial to improve the quality and progressive recovery of the Odiel river stream network.

This project arises then as the follow up of the intense research that has been conducted these last years, aiming at a possible solution by means of passive treatment of the acidic discharges. Treatments such as Anoxic Limestone Drains (ALD), the Alkalinity Producing Systems or the Sulphate Reducing Bioreactor, once implemented, would require a relatively low upkeep cost. Of the entire budget of approximately 2.650.738 Euros, 49,99 % come from community funds as the rest is sponsored by the LIFE ETAD partners.

 

Source: Ambientum.com

Project goal

Implement an optimized design of a passive treatment system for acid mine drainage process, in a kind of IPF mining location.

Demonstrate by building and launching a full-scale plant of passive treatment technology...(+) 

Project progress

 First works of the experimental treatment plant LIFE ETAD have already executed; they have consisted in transplanting of the protected species plants (Erica andevalensis) present in the plot and that could be affected by the execution of the works.

 


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