Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 4104–4115 | Cite as

Effects of the co-disposal of lignite fly ash and coal mine waste rocks on AMD and leachate quality

  • Asif QureshiEmail author
  • Christian Maurice
  • Björn Öhlander
Research Article


Lignite fly ash (FA) and waste rocks (WRs) were mixed in three different ratios (1:1, 1:3 and 1:5) and studied to compare the effects of adding FA on acid mine drainage generation from coal mining WRs, leachability of elements and the potential occurrence of the secondary minerals. FA mixed with WRs showed significant differences in pH levels compared to previous research. The 1:1 mixture performed best of all the three mixtures in terms of pH and leachability of elements, mainly due to the higher proportion of FA in the mixture. The pH in the 1:1 mixtures varied between 3.3 and 5.1 compared to other mixtures (2.3–3.5). Iron and SO42− leached considerably less from the 1:1 mixture compared to the others, indicating that the oxidation of sulphides was weaker in this mixture. Aluminium leached to a high degree from all mixtures, with concentrations varying from mg L−1 to g L−1. The reason behind this increase is probably the addition of FA which, due to acidic conditions and the composition of the FA, increases the availability of Al. For the same reason, high concentrations of Mn and Zn were also measured. Geochemical modelling indicates that the 1:1 mixture performs better in terms of precipitation of Al3+ minerals, whereas Fe3+ minerals precipitated more in mixtures containing less FA. These results suggest that, with time, the pores could possibly be filled with these secondary minerals and sulphate salts (followed by a decrease in sulphide oxidation), improving the pore water pH and decreasing the leachability of elements. Since grain size plays a crucial role in the reactivity of sulphides, there is a risk that the results from the leaching tests may have been influenced by crushing and milling of the WR samples.


Coal mine waste rock Acid mine drainage (AMD) Fly ash mixing Weathering cells PHREEQC Element leaching 



The authors wish to thank the administration at Lakhra Coal Field and Lakhra Power Station, Pakistan, for providing materials.

Funding information

This study received funding from the Division of Geosciences and Environmental Engineering at Luleå University of Technology, Sweden. Funding for the stay of the corresponding author in Sweden was provided by the Higher Education Commission, Pakistan.


  1. ACAA (2014) Is coal ash hazardous? ( In: Am. Coal Ash Assoc.
  2. ACAA (2015) An American recycling success story: beneficial use of coal combustion products.
  3. Akcil A, Koldas S (2006) Acid Mine Drainage (AMD): causes, treatment and case studies. Improv Environ Econ Ethical Perform Min Ind Part 2 Life cycle Process Anal Tech issues 14:1139–1145.
  4. Alakangas L, Andersson E, Mueller S (2013) Neutralization/prevention of acid rock drainage using mixtures of alkaline by-products and sulfidic mine wastes. Environ Sci Pollut Res 20:7907–7916. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Allison JD, Brown DS, Novo-Gradac KJ (1991) MINTEQA2/PRODEFA2. In: A geochemical assessment model for environmental systems: version 3.0 user’s manualGoogle Scholar
  6. Bäckström M, Sartz L (2011) Mixing of acid rock drainage with alkaline ash leachates-fate and immobilisation of trace elements. Water Air Soil Pollut 222:377–389. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cruz R, Méndez BA, Monroy M, González I (2001) Cyclic voltammetry applied to evaluate reactivity in sulfide mining residues. Appl Geochem 16:1631–1640. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Gilbert SE, Cooke DR, Hollings P (2003) The effects of hardpan layers on the water chemistry from the leaching of pyrrhotite-rich tailings material. Environ Geol 44:687–697. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Gitari MW, Petrik LF, Etchebers O et al (2006) Treatment of acid mine drainage with fly ash: removal of major contaminants and trace elements. J Environ Sci Heal Part A 41:1729–1747. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. GoS (2012) Lakhra Coal Field. Thar Coal Energy Board, Gov. Sindh, Pakistan, In Google Scholar
  11. Hakkou R, Benzaazoua M, Bussière B (2008) Acid mine drainage at the abandoned Kettara mine (Morocco): 1. Environmental characterization. Mine Water Environ 27:145–159. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. IEA (2017) Key world energy statistics. Paris. Accessed: October 17, 2018
  13. IEA-CIAB (2010) International Energy Agency Coal Industry Advisory Board 32nd plenary meeting discussion report. Paris. Accessed: October 17, 2018
  14. INAP (2014) International Network for Acid Prevention (INAP) Global acid rock drainage (GARD) guide.
  15. Jia Y, Maurice C, Öhlander B (2014) Effect of the alkaline industrial residues fly ash, green liquor dregs, and lime mud on mine tailings oxidation when used as covering material. Environ Earth Sci 72:319–334. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Jones SN, Cetin B (2017) Evaluation of waste materials for acid mine drainage remediation. Fuel 188:294–309. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kefeni KK, Msagati TAM, Mamba BB (2017) Acid mine drainage: prevention, treatment options, and resource recovery: a review. J Clean Prod 151:475–493. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Krauskopf KB, Bird DK (1995) Introduction to geochemistry. McGraw-Hill, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  19. Long SE, Martin TD (1991) Method 200.8 - determination of trace elements in waters and wastes by inductively coupled plasma-mass spectropemtry. Methods Determ Met Environ Samples EPA/600/4-:84–122Google Scholar
  20. Lottermoser B (2007) Mine wastes: characterization, treatment and environmental impacts. Springer Publisher, HeidelbergGoogle Scholar
  21. Martin TD, Brockhoff CA, Creed JT, Long SE (1991) Method 200.7 - determination of elements and trace elements in water and wastes by inductively coupled plasma-atomic emmission spectropemtry. Methods Determ Met Environ Samples EPA/600/4-:31–82Google Scholar
  22. Matzner E (1989) Acidic precipitation: case study soiling. In: Adriano DC, Havas M (eds) Acidic precipitation: case studies. Springer New York, New York, NY, pp 39–83CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Medina A, Gamero P, Querol X et al (2010) Fly ash from a Mexican mineral coal I: mineralogical and chemical characterization. J Hazard Mater 181:82–90. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Parkhurst DL, Appelo CAJ (2013) Description of input and examples for PHREEQC version 3—a computer program for speciation, batch-reaction, one-dimensional transport, and inverse geochemical calculations. In: Book 6, modeling techniques. U.S. Geological Survey, United States of AmericaGoogle Scholar
  25. Pérez-López R, Nieto JM, de Almodóvar GR (2007) Utilization of fly ash to improve the quality of the acid mine drainage generated by oxidation of a sulphide-rich mining waste: column experiments. Chemosphere 67:1637–1646. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Pérez-López R, Cama J, Miguel Nieto J et al (2009) Attenuation of pyrite oxidation with a fly ash pre-barrier: reactive transport modelling of column experiments. Appl Geochem 24:1712–1723. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Prasad B, Mortimer RJG (2011) Treatment of acid mine drainage using fly ash zeolite. Water Air Soil Pollut 218:667–679CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Qureshi A, Maurice C, Öhlander B (2016a) Potential of coal mine waste rock for generating acid mine drainage. J Geochem Explor 160:44–54. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Qureshi A, Jia Y, Maurice C, Öhlander B (2016b) Potential of fly ash for neutralisation of acid mine drainage. Environ Sci Pollut Res:1–12.
  30. Ritchie GSP (1989) The chemical behaviour of aluminium, hydrogen and manganese in acid soils. In: Robson AD (ed) Soil acidity and plant growth. Academic Press Sydney, pp 1–60Google Scholar
  31. Sánchez España J (2007) The behavior of iron and aluminum in acid mine drainage: speciation, mineralogy, and environmental significance. In: Thermodynamics, solubility and environmental issues. Elsevier, pp 137–150Google Scholar
  32. Siddiqui I, Hamidullah S, Shah MT (1999) Heavy metal studies in Lakhra coalGoogle Scholar
  33. Strömberg B, Banwart SA (1999) Experimental study of acidity-consuming processes in mining waste rock: some influences of mineralogy and particle size. Appl Geochem 14:1–16. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. WCA (2016) Coal facts 2015. Accessed 3 Oct 2016
  35. WHO (2017) Guidelines for drinking-water quality incorporating the first addendum, 4th edn. World Health Organization, BrazilGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Civil, Environmental and Natural Resources Engineering, Division of Geosciences and Environmental EngineeringLuleå University of TechnologyLuleåSweden
  2. 2.Department of Energy and Environment EngineeringQuaid-e-Awam University of Engineering, Science and TechnologyNawabshahPakistan

Personalised recommendations