Mine water generated from underground coal mining operations contains both dissolved and particulate solids. Dissolved solids primarily consist of sodium, calcium, magnesium, potassium, chlorides and sulfates. When discharged to a receiving stream without treatment, these constituents create a potentially toxic environment for aquatic life.
A case study is presented to discuss how a centralized treatment plant treats mine water from six locations to meet discharge limitations for chlorides. Located in West Virginia, this facility consistently achieves less than the National Pollutant Discharge Elemenation System (NPDES) permit limitation of 218 mg/L chlorides in the discharge while generating almost zero liquid waste. The dissolved solids concentration in the influent ranges between 5,000 and 10,000 mg/L, with chloride concentrations of 1,000 to 2,000 mg/L and sulfate concentrations of 2,000 to 6,000 mg/L.
Originally appeared in Mınıng Engıneerıng - March, 2015