acid mine drainage

acid drainage triggered by mining processes, especially those which expose large surface areas of rock. Abbrev.: AMD
Acid mine drainage describes the toxic environmental effect of contaminated water runoff from mining sites (often abandoned). Surface or groundwater flowing from or over mined areas comes into contact with sulphide minerals (e.g. pyrite) and reacts with oxygen and water to form sulphuric acid. The acid in turn dissolves metals and salts from disturbed soils, exposed rocks and tailings on the mine site that can leach into ground and surface water systems. Heavy metals leached from mines can include lead, copper, zinc, cadmium, aluminium, iron, magnesium and selenium. Acid levels in run-off water can be 10 000 times the acidity of normal water, poisonous to drink and harmful to aquatic organisms and habitats. AMD is a major environmental issue for the mining industry in Australia and internationally. A prime example in Australia is that of Mt Lyell in Tasmania where as a result of historic mining practices, significant pollution still occurs in Macquarie Harbour via the King River catchment.

Australian English dictionary. 2014.

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