Read the following article from the Boulderton Examiner.
The spoils of the mine:
Researchers studying the land surrounding the old mine outside Boulderton announced yesterday that the area remains highly polluted. The mine, which once yielded upward of five metric tons per year of iron ore, has been closed for nearly a decade now. During that time, the researchers say, the extent of pollution—and particularly acid mine drainage—in the surrounding area has only increased.
The Boulderton mine was primarily an open-pit mine. After all known deposits of ore were extracted from a pit, the pit was refilled with soil and small stones.
Miners repeated this process dozens of times throughout the mine’s existence, and according to the researchers there is mounting evidence that the pits have been leaching heavy metals into the soil and possibly several aquifers located beneath the mines.
The researchers intend to publish a complete report of their findings, together with their recommendations for remediation, by next week.
- Explain how the open-pit mines outside Boulderton could have contaminated the surrounding area through acid mine drainage. Include in your discussion a description of the key chemical reactions that cause acid mine drainage.
- Describe two abiotic changes to the area surrounding the mine, other than those resulting from acid mine drainage, that would likely result from open-pit mining.
- Describe one health risk to the people living near the mine posed by acid mine drainage and one health risk posed by the leaching of heavy metals from the pits.
- Describe two recommendations for remediation that will likely be included in the researchers’ published report. For each recommendation, identify a test that researchers could perform to determine whether the recommended action is working.