Effects of calcium, sulphur and potassium concentration in overburden on quality of strip mine drainage

TR Number
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Virginia Tech

Planned strip-mined land reclamation that minimizes damage of the environment is vital for preservation of water quality, especially with present increased emphasis on coal production. Analysis of overburden is becoming mandatory in order to plan effective placement of material in spoil piles. One rapid technique with little sample preparation for determination of elements in overburden is scanning electron microscopy. This method was quantified in this study for determination of sulphur, potassium and calcium concentrations in cores from two watersheds in Raleigh County, West Virginia. These values were added to a water quality model to more accurately predict concentrations of elements in strip-mine drainage. Development of a method to predict elemental concentrations is helpful in determining potential environmental damage to a watershed. A correlation analysis was conducted using water quality data before and during mining to substantiate data received in the core analysis.

Information as is determined in this study’ can aid mine operators in selecting potentially deleterious strata for subsurface placement and in retaining more environmentally beneficial strata for use on spoil surfaces. Knowledge of potentially hazardous substances in overburden should lead to more efficient revegetation procedures by surface mine operators.