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Content archived on 2024-05-14

Rehabilitation and revegetation of mining waste-dumps by the use of industrial and domestic sewage sludges from waste-water purification plants


Objectives and content:

The utilisation of waste as secondary raw material is a fundamental principle of the so called sustainable development, world-wide. Prerequisite for the usage of pollutant bearing materials is that a negative impact on the environment can be excluded. Waste dumps resulting from open-cast and underground mining operations constitute a serious environmental problem if they are not properly rehabilitated and regenerated, because untreated dump-sites form a source of continuous emission of dust, fumes and a source of possible ground-water pollution. One significant cost-factor of the rehabilitation results from the necessity of purchasing soils, if in situ soil is not available. This cost-factor could be substantially reduced by using the positive physical, chemical and biological properties of mixtures based upon industrial residues (fly ash from power stations, red mud from alumina production, flotationtailings) and sewage sludges as a fertile component. Capping the waste dumps and at the same time create a fertile substratum for revegetation can contribute to the solution of safe disposal/utilisation of industrial residues and rehabilitation of waste dumps resulting from the mining industry. Additionally the usages of these residues as secondary raw material save natural resources and avoid the demand of disposal-site volume.

Sludges, especially sewage sludges and industrial waste contain a large number of different potential contaminants, which causes environmental problems. This requires a methodology to deposit the artificial topsoil in place and mix it with the upper most layer of the waste dump and to prevent the toxic components of the mixture from being leached out of the soil. As a basic research project, the research aims at developing the initial artificial top soil mixtures in the laboratory under consideration of the geogenic conditions, followed by field testing of the mixtures in designated test beds provided by industrial partner and the development of a probably coupled 3D Finite Difference/Finit Element Model for simulating contaminant sorption and transport to investigate the long-term behaviour of the mixtures. The project involves seven research partners (three universities, four industrial partners) from Germany, United Kingdom and Ukraine who will carryout research into elements that lead to the development of this integrated and probably environmentally acceptable method. Given that the laboratory tests and field tests prove the safe applicability of this technique and, if the predictions of the groundwater model also indicate long term stability to the pollutant components in the mixtures, the developed technique can be considered for full-scale industrial trials in an industrial project. BE97-4254 03

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Technische Universität Berlin
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135,Stasse des 17 Juni
10623 Berlin

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Participants (6)