International Geological Journal - Official Journal of the Carpathian-Balkan Geological Association

Dissolved matter and suspended solids in the Smolnik Creek polluted by acid mine drainage (Slovakia)

Pages: 311 - 324


Abstract: The impact of acid mine drainage on the Smolnik Creek catchment was evaluated approximately 10 years after the closure of the mining area. Water and suspended solids (particles >0.45 μm) were collected five times from June 2002 to July 2003. The water chemistry of 44 samples and Fe, Al, Mg, Ca, Na, K, Cu, Zn, Mn, Pb, As contents of 25 suspended solids sample HNO3 leachates were analysed. Past reclamation effort decreased the volume of water effluent from the abandoned mine system and improved their quality, which is indicated by the decreased content of dissolved matter from 7–17 g/l to 5±1 g/l. However, from the new mine drainage 860 m3/day of acid mine drainage water (pH 3.8±0.5) enter the creek and other polluted water is generated by tailings and old dumps. Elevated contents of Fe, SO42–, Cu, Zn, Mn in comparison with the water limit (CD 98/83/EC) were detected in the creek water 16 km downstream the mine, near the confluence with the Hnilec River. The total mass of suspended solids seasonally increased 2–3 times under the mine because of iron oxyhydroxides generation in the mine-creek water-mixing zones. The suspended solids transported substantial doses of iron, Al, Cu, As and other elements, which can be the same or even higher than is removed in dissolved form. The suspended solids analyses documented the immediate impact and quantity of mine-derived pollution enlargement in the catchment and they increased objectivity of environmental impact assessment.

Keywords: pollution, catchment, precipitates, acid mine drainage, iron oxyhydroxides

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