Document Type : Original Article


1 Environmental Engineering majoring in Water and Waste water, Kish International Campus, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran

2 Department of Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Environment, Campus of Technical Faculties, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran


Introduction: In copper industries, mining has great importance from the environmental point of view, as many by-products are generated during this process. Most of the mining tailings are sulfide minerals that are oxidized after they are extracted and exposed to oxygen and water, which consequently leads to the production of acid mine drainage (AMD). Water management strategies are conducted to control AMD. Generally, one of the most important methods to refine AMD and release it into the environment is treatment technology. AMD treatment methods are classified as active and passive systems. In the present study, the need for the treatment methods was investigated and then the optimum system was specified.
Material and methods: Sungun copper mine is located in northwestern Iran, 130 km north of Tabriz and 30 km north of Varzeqan. The production rate of tailings in this mine is roughly 11.2 million tons per year, which has over 3 km2 area in Pakhir Valley. Samples of acidic drainage from Pakhir Chay River were collected 7 times and transferred to the laboratory of Omran Zist Azma Company. Bottles of polypropylene (200 ml) were used to gather samples for analyzing acidity, sulfate, and TDS, and HDPE bottles (250 ml) were used to gather samples for analyzing heavy metals (copper, iron, and manganese) parameters. Moreover, concentrated nitric acid was used for stabilizing the samples. The flow rate of the river was measured by Mouline (flow meter and flow cross-section method), which was on average 32 liters per second.
Results and discussion: Analyzing the results of 7 sampling periods, it was found that the average value of pH, sulfate, copper, iron, and manganese parameters were 3.94, 2601.4, 276.78, 0.193, and 46.04 mg /l, respectively. According to the standard limits of the Environmental Protection Organization for discharging wastewater into surface water, all parameters except iron had exceeded the permissible limits, so a treatment system will be required before releasing AMD into the environment.
Conclusion: Based on the quantitative and qualitative characteristics of the acid mine drainage in the present study and various acidic effluent treatment methods, it can be concluded that the active treatment method is a promising option to eliminate contaminants from the acidic effluent. Moreover, among the active purification methods, the DAOS method will have better efficiency so that it leads to higher efficiency of system’s operation, and the best quality output will be discharged into the environment.


Azizi, B., Vaezi, A., Siah Cheshm, K. and Aber, S., 2016. Design of acid drainage system for sungun molybdenum copper mine, 8th National Conference and Specialized Exhibition of Environmental Engineering, 7th November, Tehran, Iran.
Barkan, Sh. and Aghazadeh, V., 2016. Removal of sulfate under acidic mine drainage conditions using Pilard nano-bentonite of aluminum and iron. Journal of Mineral Resources Engineering. 3, 57-75.
Boger, D.V., 2009. Rheology and the resource industries. Chemical Engineering Science, 64(22), 4525-4536 .
Brown, M., Barley, B. and Wood, H., 2002. Minewater Treatment: IWA publishing.
Browner, C.M., 2000. Development Document for Effluent Limitations Guidelines and Standards for the Centralized Waste Treatment Industry: Final (Vol. 1). US Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Water.
Butler, B.A., 2009. Effect of pH, ionic strength, dissolved organic carbon, time, and particle size on metals release from mine drainage impacted streambed sediments. Water Research. 43(5), 1392-1402.
Casiot, C., Egal, M., Elbaz-Poulichet, F., Bruneel, O., Bancon-Montigny, C., Cordier, M.A. and Aliaume., C., 2009. Hydrological and geochemical control of metals and arsenic in a Mediterranean river contaminated by acid mine drainage (the Amous River, France); preliminary assessment of impacts on fish (Leuciscus cephalus). Applied Geochemistry. 24(5), 787-799.
Dold, B., Wade, C., and Fontboté, L., 2009. Water management for acid mine drainage control at the polymetallic Zn–Pb–(Ag–Bi–Cu) deposit Cerro de Pasco, Peru. Journal of Geochemical Exploration. 100(2-3), 133-141 .
Dolenec, T., Serafimovski, T., Tasev, G., Dobnikar, M., Dolenec, M. and Rogan, N., 2007. Major and trace elements in paddy soil contaminated by Pb–Zn mining: a case study of Kočani Field, Macedonia. Environmental Geochemistry and Health. 29(1), 21-32.
Eary, L.E., Runnells, D.D., and Esposito, K., 2003. Geochemical controls on ground water composition at the Cripple Creek mining district, Cripple Creek, Colorado. Applied Geochemistry. 18(1), 1-24 .
Evangelou ,V.P. and Zhang, Y., 1995. A review: pyrite oxidation mechanisms and acid mine drainage prevention. Critical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology. 25(2), 141-199.
Hamidi, A., 2015. Feasibility study of industrial wastewater treatment using nanosorbent of Salvadora Persica Plant, Case Study of Sarcheshmeh mineral wastewater. Faculty of Mining Engineering, Petroleum and Geophysics, M.Sc. Thesis. University of Shahrood, Iran.
Geldenhuis, S. and Bell, F., 1998. Acid mine drainage at a coal mine in the eastern Transvaal, South Africa. Environmental Geology. 34(2-3), 234-242 .
Johnson, D.B. and Hallberg, K.B., 2005. Acid mine drainage remediation options: a review. Science of the Total Environment. 338(1-2), 3-14 .
Johnson, D.B. and Hallberg, K.B., 2005. Acid mine drainage remediation options: a review. Science of the Total Environment. 338(1-2), 3-14 .
Kontopoulos, A., 1998. Acid mine drainage control. Effluent Treatment in the Mining Industry. 57-118 .
Liao, B., Huang, L., Ye, Z., Lan, C. and Shu, W., 2007. Cut‐off Net acid generation pH in predicting acid‐forming potential in mine spoils. Journal of Environmental Quality. 36(3), 887-891 .
Liu, R., Wolfe, A.L., Dzombak, D.A., Horwitz, C.P., Stewart, B.W. and Capo, R.C., 2008. Electrochemical study of hydrothermal and sedimentary pyrite dissolution. Applied Geochemistry. 23(9), 2724-2734 .
Lottermoser, B.G., 2010. Introduction to Mine
Wastes. In Mine Wastes, Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg, Germany. pp. 1-41.
Luís, A., Teixeira, P., Almeida, S., Ector, L., Matos, J. and Da Silva, E.F., 2009. Impact of acid mine drainage (AMD) on water quality, stream sediments and periphytic diatom communities in the surrounding streams of Aljustrel mining area (Portugal). Water, Air, and Soil Pollution. 200(1-4), 147-167 .
Marcus, J.J., 1997. Mining Environmental Handbook: Effects of Mining on the Environment and American Environmental Controls on Mining, World Scientific, USA.
Masoumim, A., Dolati Ardeh Jani, F. and AslaniMehdi Khorasanipour, S., 2014. Acid mine drainage, formation sources and related chemical relationships, The First National Conference on Environmental Pollution With a Focus on Clean Land, 12th May, Ardebil, Iran.
Morais, C., Rosado, L ,.Mirão, J., Pinto, A., Nogueira, P. and Candeias, A., 2008. Impact of acid mine drainage from Tinoca Mine on the Abrilongo dam (southeast Portugal). Mineralogical Magazine. 72(1), 467-472 .
Novhe, N.O., 2012. Evaluation of the applicability of the passive treatment for the management of polluted mine water in the Witwatersrand Goldfields. International Mine Water Association Conference, 4th October, South Africa.
Omidpur, A., Salari, M., Aazami, M., Khodadadi, A. and Marzban, M., 2008. Preliminary prediction of acid mine drainage (Potential for AMD Formation) using static methods in Songon Copper ore mine. The Second Iranian Mining Engineering Conference. 11th November, Tehran, Iran.
USEPA. 2004. Primer For Municipal Wastewater Treatment Systems, OoW Management, USA.
Rajaram, V., Glazer, A. and Coghlan, G., 2000. Methodology for estimating the costs of treatment of mine drainage. Paper presented at the Proceedings, The 17th International Mining Congress and Exhibition of Turkey-IMCET. 19-22th June, Ankara, Turkey.
Seal II, R.R., Hammarstrom, J.M., Johnson, A.N., Piatak, N.M., and Wandless, G.A., 2008. Environmental geochemistry of a Kuroko-type massive sulfide deposit at the abandoned Valzinco mine, Virginia, USA. Applied Geochemistry.
23(2), 320-342.
Shayestehfar, M.R. and Rezaei, A., 2007. Selection of the most appropriate acid drainage treatment method in Sarcheshmeh copper mine, Conference on Applied Identity and Environment, Islamic Azad Universit, 22th February, Kerma, Iran .
Skousen, J.G., Sexstone, A. and Ziemkiewicz, P.F., 2000. Acid mine drainage control and treatment. Reclamation of Drastically Disturbed Lands. 41, 131-168.
Trumm, D., 2010. Selection of active and passive treatment systems for AMD-flow charts for New Zealand conditions. New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics. 53(2-3), 195-210.
Walton-Day, K., 2003. Geochemistry of active and passive treatment processes used to treat mine drainage. Science for a Changing World. 31, 335-359.