Mining Waste

Available Resources:

Mining Waste Treatment Technology Selection (MW-1)
August 2010

Supplemental Training:

Mining Waste Treatment Technology Selection 
Archive Date: May 2014

About the Resources:

The ITRC Mining Waste Team developed a Web-based Guidance Document, “Mining Waste Treatment Technology Selection (MW-1),” to help regulators, consultants, industry, and stakeholders select an applicable technology, or suite of technologies, which can be used to remediate mining sites. These technologies may also be applicable to other sites.
Through a series of questions, decision trees guide users to a set of treatment technologies that may be applicable to a particular site situation. Each technology is described, along with a summary of the applicability, advantages, limitations, performance, stakeholder and regulatory considerations, and lessons learned. Each technology overview links to case studies where the technology has been implemented.

About the Team:

Mining is an essential component of the economy of the United States, but historical mining practices and the absence of routine mined-land reclamation, remediation, and restoration have led to legacy sites with environmental and human health impacts. Typical remedial solutions are often lengthy, expensive, and unacceptable to the regulated and regulatory communities, as well as to the public. 

Although traditional mining practices and regulations have changed, new mining operations continue to have waste issues that must be addressed during and after the actual mining operation. Some new operations occur in areas with legacy environmental sites where the actual material contains sufficient residual mineralization such that further development, remaining, and subsequent reclamation of the waste is economically viable. Some current operations even have the infrastructure in place to co-manage the cleanup of legacy waste while in operation. This being said, regulations, poor communication, and often combative relationships create barriers to these innovative approaches.

New mining operations see tremendous benefits by incorporating the idea of “sustainable development” into their business plan. Industry in general has found that by reducing long-term maintenance and overall waste, their impact on the environment is minimized, thereby reducing overall operational costs. Pollution prevention and waste management are critical operational components in the mining industry, and innovative techniques and technologies (remediation, reclamation, restoration, and reuse) are the key elements for long-term environmental protection.