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Influence of Iron Bearing Carbonates and Reactive Iron Sulfides on Acid Rock Drainage Static Predictive Testwork

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  • The acid neutralisation capacity (ANC) of rock sample containing significant iron carbonates and/or reactive framboidal pyrite can be a difficult parameter to determine. Results indicated that negative ANC results can occur if reactive sulfide minerals are present; and an over-estimation of ANC will result if significant Fe rich carbonate minerals are present during industry standard ANC tests. In this paper we investigate these problems. Results showed that a significant lag period may be needed (up to 432 hours) after standard Sobek ANC type tests of siderite for the complete hydrolysis of iron released from this mineral. This even occurred with standard industry modifications that included the addition of two drops of hydrogen peroxide. In this work we use a modified Sobek test that included filtering, and thence continued hydrogen peroxide addition until there was no subsequent pH drop, followed by back titration to pH 7.0. Results indicated that the ANC for the siderite (after zero hours) was immediately comparable to the ANC determined after 432 hours lag by standard Sobek type tests; and a calculated theoretical carbonate ANC. Investigations of coal waste samples containing significant framboidal pyrite indicated that standard Sobek ANC type tests can result in negative ANC values due to the oxidation of this reactive pyrite. Because sulfide acidity is already addressed by the MPA calculation, the inclusion of sulfide acidity as part of the ANC determination is effectively biased towards acid generation and thus positive NAPP values. Negative ANC values cannot be ignored or assumed to be zero as this masks any actual ANC available within the sample, which may possibly affect AMD categorisation. This sulfide acidity can be factored out using the quantity of S in the ANC digestion liquor and knowing the non-acid generating sulfate content of the sample prior to ANC testing. Results indicated that incomplete iron hydrolysis at the completion of the Modified Sobek ANC test is not only a function of iron carbonate dissolution, but is also related to the dissolution of Fe-sulfate salts, and the oxidation of reactive sulfides such as framboidal pyrite.

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