The Development of a Sustainable Bioremediation Process for the Treatment of Severe Acid Mine Drainage by Removing Toxic Metals using Bioadsorbents

Lay Summary 

Newfoundland and Labrador is a resource rich province in Canada. It has vast water resources including lakes, ponds, brooks etc., and also holds very rich mineral resources. The mining industry in this province produces more than a dozen different mineral commodities, and every year it generates billions of dollars in mineral shipments. Many producing, non-producing and abandoned mines in this province generate acid around the clock because of geophysical and geochemical interaction of minerals with weather. This is called Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) and this acid eventually ends up in water bodies, including lakes, ponds, brooks etc., which reduces the pH of the water and makes it acidic. Also, the acid that is produced in the mine dissolves heavy/toxic metals such as lead, zinc etc. that migrate into aquifer or surface water. As a result, mine site water and soil pollution is a severe environmental problem, which poses a direct threat to the aquatic life as well as local residents of this province.

Many researchers found that special plants such as Chara plant, Cattail etc. or macro algae uptake lead as a nutrient, and thus ultimately reduce lead levels in the soil/water. This is a sustainable low cost bioremediation process; however, this process would not sustain in the harsh conditions of Newfoundland and Labrador as these plants/algae cannot survive in cold weather as well as in acidic water. In this research a sustainable bioremediation process is being developed for the treatment of severe acid mine drainage by removing heavy/toxic metals from the affected mine water using cheap, but very efficient, bio-adsorbent material derived from the agricultural biomass waste that would sustain in acidic waters and harsh climates.

Faculty of Engineering & Applied Science
Environmental Science
Research Grants and Contract Services
The Leslie Harris Centre of Regional Policy and Development
The Harris Centre Applied Research Fund (2010 - 2011)
St. John's
Newfoundland and Labrador
Chemical Engineering
Pollution Prevention
Natural Resources
Research and Development
International Collaboration
Industry Sectors 
Scientific Research and Development Services
Mining and Quarrying (except Oil and Gas)
Start date 
1 Jan 2010
End date 
31 Dec 2011