An integrated algal sulphate reducing high rate ponding process for the treatment of acid mine drainage wastewaters

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University of Cape Town

Acid mine drainage pollution may be associated with large water volume flows and exceptionally long periods of time over which the drainage may require treatment. While the use and role of sulphate reducing bacteria has been demonstrated in active treatment systems for acid mine drainage remediation, reactor size requirement and the cost and availability of the carbon and electron donor source are factors which constrain process development. Little attention has focussed on the use of waste stabilisation ponding processes for acid mine drainage treatment. Wastewater ponding is a mature technology for the treatment of large water volumes and its use as a basis for appropriate reactor design for acid mine drainage treatment is described including high rates of sulphate reduction and the precipitation of metal sulphides. Together with the co-disposal of organic wastes, algal biomass is generated as an independent carbon source for SRB production. Treatment of tannery effluent in a custom-designed high rate algal ponding process, and its use as a carbon source in the generation and precipitation of metal sulphides, has been demonstrated through piloting to the implementation of a full-scale process.The treatment of both mine drainage and zinc refinery wastewaters are reported. A complementary role for microalgal production in the generation of alkalinity and bioadsorptive removal of metals has been utilised and an Integrated ‘Algal Sulphate Reducing Ponding Process for the Treatment of Acidic and Metal Wastewaters’ (ASPAM) has been described.