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Acid mine waters, often containing toxic concentrations of Fe, Al, Cu, Zn, Cd, Pb, Ni, Co, and Cr, can be produced from the mining of coal and metallic deposits. Values of pH for acid mine waters can range from −3.5 to 5, but even circumneutral (pH ≈ 7) mine waters can have high concentrations of As, Sb, Mo, U, and F. When mine waters are discharged into streams, lakes, and the oceans, serious degradation of water quality and injury to aquatic life can ensue, especially when tailings impoundments break suddenly. The main acid-producing process is the exposure of pyrite to air and water, which promotes oxidative dissolution, a reaction catalyzed by microbes. Current and future mining should plan for the prevention...
Mercury-rich coals in the Donets Basin (Donbas region) of Ukraine were sampled in active underground mines to assess the levels of potentially harmful elements and the potential for dispersion of metals through use of this coal. For 29 samples representing c11 to m3 Carboniferous coals, mercury contents range from 0.02 to 3.5 ppm (whole-coal dry basis). Mercury is well correlated with pyritic sulfur (0.01 to 3.2 wt.%), with an r2 of 0.614 (one outlier excluded). Sulfides in these samples show enrichment of minor constituents in late-stage pyrite formed as a result of interaction of coal with hydrothermal fluids. Mine water sampled at depth and at surface collection points does not show enrichment of trace metals...