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Annual Report 2002

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Mine Waste Technology Program - 2002 Annual Report (PDF, 7.5M, 63 pp)

Prepared by:

MSE Technology Applications, Inc.
P.O. Box 4078
Butte , Montana 59702

Mine Waste Technology Program
Interagency Agreement Management Committee
IAG ID NO. DW89938870-01-0

Prepared for:

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Research and Development
National Risk Management Research Laboratory
26 W. Martin Luther King Drive
Cincinnati, Ohio 46268


U.S. Department of Energy
National Energy Technology Laboratory
P.O. Box 10940
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15236-0940
Contract No. DE-AC22-96EW96405

Table of Contents

Vision Statement for the Butte Mine Waste Technology Program

Program Manager's Executive Summary


Program Overview

Organizational Structure


Descriptions, Accomplishments, and Future Direction

Activity I Overview - Issues Identification

Activity II Overview - Quality Assurance

Activity III Overview - Pilot-Scale Demonstrations

Project 3 Sulfate-Reducing Bacteria Demonstration

Project 8 Underground Mine Source Control

Project 14 Biological Cover Demonstration

Project 15 Tailings Source Control

Project 16 Integrated Passive Biological Treatment Process Demonstration

Project 16A Sulfate-Reducing Bacteria-Driven Sulfide Precipitation Demonstration Project

Project 19 Site In Situ Mercury Stabilization Technologies

Project 21 Integrated Process for Treatment of Berkeley Pit Water

Project 22 Phosphate Stabilization of Mine Waste Contaminated Soils

Project 23 Revegetation of Mining Waste Using Organic Amendments and Evaluate the Potential for Creating Attractive Nuisances for Wildlife

Project 24 Improvements in Engineered Bioremediation of Acid Mine Drainage

Project 25 Passive Arsenic Removal Demonstration Project

Project 26 Prevention of Acid Mine Drainage Generation from Open-Pit Mine Highwalls

Project 29 Remediation Technology Evaluation at the Gilt Edge Mine

Project 30 Acidic/Heavy Metal-Tolerant Plant Cultivars Demonstration, Anaconda Smelter Superfund Site

Project 33 Microencapsulation to Prevent Acid Mine Drainage

Project 34 Bioremediation of Pit Lakes (Guilt Edge Mine)

Project 36 Ceramic Microfiltration System Demonstration

Project 38 Contaminant Speciation in Riparian Soils Demonstration

Project 39 Long-Term Monitoring of Permeable Treatment Wall Demonstration

Project 40 Electrochemical Tailings Cover

Activity IV Overview - Bench-Scale Testing

Project 22 Organic Matter Degradation Rate in a Sulfate Reducing Wetland

Project 23 Sulfate Removal Technology Development

Project 24 Algal Bioremediation of the Berkeley Pit Lake System - Phase III

Activity V Overview - Technology Transfer

Activity VI Overview - Training and Education

Financial Summary

Completed Activities

Key Contacts

Vision Statement for the Butte Mine Waste Technology Program

The Problem

Mining activities in the United States (not counting coal) produce between 1 and 2 billion tons of mine waste annually. These activities include extraction and beneficiation of metallic ores, phosphate, uranium, and oil shale. Over 130,000 of these noncoal mines, concentrated largely in nine western states, are responsible for polluting over 3,400 miles of streams and over 440,000 acres of land. About seventy of these sites are on the National Priority List for Superfund remediation. In the 1985 Report to Congress on the subject, the total noncoal mine waste volume was estimated at 50 billion tons, with 33% being tailings, 17% dump/heap leach wastes and mine water, and 50% surface and underground wastes. Since many of the mines involve sulfide minerals, the production of acid mine drainage (AMD) is a common problem from these abandoned mine sites. The cold temperatures in the higher elevations and heavy snows frequently prevent winter site access. The combinations of acidity, heavy metals, and sediment have severe detrimental environmental impacts on the delicate ecosystems in the West.

Philosophy / Vision

End-of-pipe treatment technologies, while essential for short-term control of environmental impact from mining operations, are a stopgap approach for total remediation. Efforts need to be made on improving the end-of-pipe technologies to reduce trace elements to low levels for applications in ultra-sensitive watersheds and for reliable operation in unattended, no power situations. The concept of pollution prevention, emphasizing at-source control and resource recovery, is the approach of choice for the long-term solution. Our objective in the Butte Mine Waste Technology Program is not to assess the environmental impacts of the mining activities, but it is to develop and prove technologies that provide satisfactory short- and long-term solutions to the remedial problems facing abandoned mines often in remote sites and the ongoing compliance problems associated with active mines, not only in Montana but throughout the United States.


There are priority areas for research, in the following order of importance:

Source Controls, Including In Situ Treatments and Predictive Techniques
It is far more effective to attack the problem at its source than to attempt to deal with diverse and dispersed wastes, laden with wide varieties of metal contaminants. At-source control technologies, such as sulfate-reducing bacteria; biocyanide oxidation for heap leach piles; transport control/pathway interruption techniques, including infiltration controls, sealing, grouting, and plugging by ultramicrobiological systems; and AMD production prediction and control techniques should strive toward providing a permanent solution, which of course is the most important goal of the program.

Treatment Technologies
Improvements in short-term end-of-pipe treatment options are essential for providing immediate alleviation of some of the severe environmental problems associated with mining, and particularly with abandoned metal mines. Because immediate solutions may be required, this area of research is extremely important for effective environmental protection.

Resource Recovery
In the spirit of pollution prevention, much of the mining wastes, both AMD (e.g., over 25 billion gallons of Berkeley Pit water) and the billions of tons of mining/beneficiation wastes, represent a potential resource as they contain significant quantities of heavy metals. While remediating these wastes, it may be feasible to incorporate resource recovery options to help offset remedial costs.

The Partnerships

In these days of ever-tightening budgets, it is important that we leverage our limited funding with other agencies and with private industry. The Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service actively participate by providing sites for demonstrations of the technologies. It is important where these technologies have application to active mining operations to achieve cost-sharing partnerships with the mining industry to test the technologies at their sites. Fortunately, the program has strong cooperation from industry. Within the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Butte program is coordinated and teamed, where appropriate, with the Superfund Innovative Technology Evaluation (SITE) program to leverage the funding and maximize the effectiveness of both programs. We have strong interaction, cooperation, and assistance from the mining teams in the EPA Regional Offices, especially Regions 7, 8, 9, and 10. Several joint projects are underway, and more are planned.

A considerable resource and willing partner is the University system (such as Montana Tech of the University of Montana, University of Montana - Missoula, Montana State University - Bozeman, and the Center for Biofilm Engineering), which can conduct the more basic type of research related to kinetics, characterization, and bench-scale tests at minimal cost to the program, while at the same time providing environmental education that will be useful to the region and to the Nation. The Butte Mine Waste Technology Program supports cooperative projects between the educational system and the mining industry, where teams of students conduct research of mine site-specific problems, often with monetary support from the industry. The results are made available to the industry as a whole and to the academic community.

The Science

The research program is peer-reviewed annually by the Technical Integration Committee (TIC), who technically reviews all ongoing and proposed projects. The TIC is composed of technical experts from EPA and the cooperating agencies, academia, environmental stakeholders, and industry and their consultants. Final reports are additionally peer-reviewed in accordance with EPA's strict policy for scientific products.

Roger C. Wilmoth
Chief, Industrial Multimedia Branch
Sustainable Technology Division
National Risk Management Research Laboratory
Office of Research and Development
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
(MS 445)
26 W. Martin Luther King Drive
Cincinnati, OH 45268

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Program Manager's Executive Summary

The Mine Waste Technology Program (MWTP) Annual Report for fiscal 2002 summarizes the results and accomplishments for the various activities within the Program. The MWTP has met its goals by providing assistance to the public and forming cooperative teams drawn from government, industry, and private citizens. The funds expended have returned tangible results, providing tools for those faced with mine waste remediation challenges.

After 12 years, everyone involved with the MWTP can look with pride to the Program's success. Technology development and basic research has proceeded successfully through the efforts of MSE Technology Applications, Inc. (MSE) and its prime subcontractor Montana Tech of the University of Montana (Montana Tech).

MSE has developed thirty-seven field-scale demonstrations, several of which are attracting attention from industry and public stakeholders involved in the cleanup of mine wastes.

Montana Tech has developed twenty-four bench-scale projects, six of which are ongoing during 2002. This cooperative effort provides cutting edge research for the program as well as educational opportunities.

Numerous activities are associated with the development of a field-scale demonstration. Among these activities is the need to acquire federal and state permits, secure liability limiting access agreements, develop and adhere to health and safety operation plans, and comply with the National Environmental Policy Act and other federal and state environmental oversight statutes.

The Program has received substantial support from state and federal agencies, the mining industry, environmental organizations, and numerous associations interested in mining and development of natural resources at state, regional, and national levels.

Montana Tech continued the post-graduate degree program with a mine waste emphasis. The quality of short courses offered by Montana Tech is becoming highly recognized by the mining industry and mine waste remediation community. Graduates of the program are fast becoming leaders for industry and government agencies helping to promote technology usage and acceptance worldwide.

The MWTP recognizes its major accomplishments and looks forward to providing new and innovative technologies; meeting the challenges of mine waste remediation; and providing economical, permanent solutions to the nation's mining waste problems.

Jeff LeFever
MSE MWTP Program Manager

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Mining waste generated by active and inactive mining production facilities and its impact on human health and the environment are a growing problem for Government entities, private industry, and the general public. The nation's reported volume of mine waste is immense. Presently, there are more than sixty mining impacted sites on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's National Priorities List.

Environmental impacts associated with inactive and abandoned mines are common to mining districts around the country, as shown in Table 1.

Total estimated remediation costs for these states range from $4 to $45 billion.

Health effects from the predominate contaminants in mine waste range from mild irritants to proven human carcinogens, such as cadmium and arsenic. The large volume of mine wastes and consequential adverse environmental and human health effects indicates an urgency for cleanup of abandoned, inactive, and active mining facilities. The environmental future of the United States depends in part on the ability to deal effectively with mine waste problems of the past and present, and more importantly, to prevent mine waste problems in the future.

The fiscal year (FY) 1991 Congressional Appropriation allocated $3.5 million to establish a pilot program in Butte , Montana , for evaluating and testing mine waste treatment technologies. The Mine Waste Technology Program (MWTP) received additional appropriations of $3.5 million in FY91, $3.3 million in FY94, $5.9 million in FY95, $2.5 million in FY96, $7.5 million in FY97, $6.0 million in FY98 and FY99, $4.3 million in FY00, $3.9 million in FY01, and $3.9 million in FY02.

The projects undertaken by this Program focus on developing and demonstrating innovative technologies at both the bench- and pilot-scale that treat wastes to reduce their volume, mobility, or toxicity. Fifty percent of the budget is allocated to focus areas such as: 1) source control for preventing metal leaching and acid mine drainage; 2) techniques for treating low-flow metal laden/acid mine drainage in remote settings. To convey the results of these demonstrations to the user community, the mining industry, and regulatory agencies, MWTP includes provisions for extensive technology transfer and educational activities. This report summarizes the progress of the MWTP in FY02.

Table 1. Number and types of sites and abandoned mine lands in Western Region.
State Estimated Number of Sites or Land Areas Classification and Estimated Number
Alaska 10,910 sites mine dumps - 1,000 acres
disturbed land - 27,680 acres
mine openings - 500
hazardous structures - 300
Arizona 95,000 sites polluted water - 2,002 acres
mine dumps - 40,000 acres
disturbed land - 96,652 acres
mine openings - 80,000
California 11,500 sites polluted water - 369,920 acres
mine dumps - 171 acres
mine openings - 1,685
Colorado 20,229 sites covering
26,584 acres
polluted water - 830,720 acres
mine dumps - 11,800 acres
disturbed land - 13,486 acres
mine openings - 20,229
hazardous structures - 1,125
Idaho 8,500 sites covering
18,465 acres
polluted water - 84,480 acres
mine dumps - 3,048 acres
disturbed land - 24,495 acres
mine openings - 2,979
hazardous structures - 1,926
Michigan 400-500 sites Accurate information not available.
Montana 19,751 sites covering
11,256 acres
polluted water - 715,520 acres
mine dumps - 14,038 acres
disturbed land - 20,862 acres
mine openings - 4,668
hazardous structures - 1,747
Nevada 400,000 sites Accurate information not available.
New Mexico 7,222 sites covering
13,585 acres
polluted water - 44,160 acres
mine dumps - 6,335 acres
disturbed land - 25,230 acres
mine openings - 13,666
hazardous structures - 658
Oregon 3,750 sites polluted water - 140,800 acres
mine dumps - 180 acres
disturbed land - 61,000 acres
mine openings - 3,750
hazardous structures - 695
South Dakota 4,775 acres Accurate information not available.
Texas 17,300 acres Accurate information not available.
Utah 14,364 sites covering
12,780 acres
polluted water - 53,120 acres
mine dumps - 2,369 acres
disturbed land - 18,873 acres
mine openings - 14,364
hazardous structures - 224
Wisconsin 200 acres Accurate information not available.
Wyoming 5,000 acres Accurate information not available.
Information was collected from the following sources and is only an estimate of the acid mine drainage problem in the West.
-Bureau of Land Management -U.S. Department of the Interior
-Bureau of Mines -U.S. Forest Service
-Mineral Policy Center -U.S. Geological Survey
-National Park Service -U.S. General Accounting Office
-U.S. Department of Agriculture -Western Governor's Association Mine Waste Task Force Study

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Program Overfield

Fiscal 2002 Program

This Mine Waste Technology Program (MWTP) annual report covers the period from October 1, 2001 , through September 30, 2002 . This section of the report explains the MWTP organization and operation.


The mission of the MWTP is to provide engineering solutions to national environmental issues resulting from the past practices of mining and smelting metallic ores. In accomplishing this mission, the MWTP develops and conducts a program that emphasizes treatment technology development, testing and evaluation at bench- and pilot-scale, and an education program that emphasizes training and technology transfer. Evaluation of the treatment technologies focuses on reducing the mobility, toxicity, and volume of waste; implementability; short- and long-term effectiveness; protection of human health and the environment; community acceptance; and cost reduction.

The statement of work provided in the Interagency Agreement between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy identifies six activities to be completed by MWTP. The following descriptions identify the key features of each and the organization performing the activity

Activity I: Issues Identification

Montana Tech of the University of Montana (Montana Tech) is documenting mine waste technical issues and innovative treatment technologies. These issues and technologies are then screened and prioritized in volumes related to a specific mine waste problem. Technical issues of primary interest are Mobile Toxic Constituents - Water/Acid Generation; Mobile Toxic Constituents - Air, Cyanide, Nitrate, Arsenic, Pyrite, Selenium, and Thallium; and Pit Lakes. Wasteforms reviewed related to these issues include point- and nonpoint-source acid drainage, abandoned mine acid drainage, streamside tailings, impounded tailings, priority soils, and heap leach-cyanide/acid tailings. In addition, under this task Montana Tech produced a CD-ROM based summary of the Program in two volumes - Annual Report and Activities in Depth. The CDs can be obtained from the personnel listed in the Contacts Section of this report.

Activity II: Quality Assurance

The MWTP operates under an EPA approved Quality Management Plan (QMP). This plan provides specific instructions for data gathering, analyzing, and reporting for all MWTP activities.

Activity III: Pilot-Scale Demonstrations

Pilot-scale demonstration topics were chosen after a thorough investigation of the associated technical issue was performed, the specific wasteform to be tested was identified, peer review was conducted, and sound engineering and cost determination of the demonstration were formulated.

MSE continued eighteen field-scale demonstrations during fiscal 2002. Four field demonstrations were completed, i.e., Projects 12, 27, 31, and 35. Three projects were begun: 1) Contaminant Speciation in Riparian Soils; 2) Long-Term Monitoring of a Permeable Treatment Wall; and 3) Electrochemical Tailings Cover.

Activity IV: Bench-Scale Experiments

Montana Tech successfully completed seven projects during fiscal 2002, i.e., Projects 13, 14, and 16 through 20. Three projects were begun: 1) Organic Matter Degradation Rate in a Sulfate Reducing Wetland; 2) Sulfate Removal Technology Development; and 3) Algal Bioremediation of Berkeley Pit Lake System -Phase III.

Activity V: Technology Transfer

MSE is responsible for preparing and distributing reports for the MWTP. These include routine weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual reports; technical progress reports; and final reports for all MWTP activities. MSE also publicizes information developed under MWTP in local, regional, and national publications. Other means of information transfer include public meetings, workshops, and symposiums.

Activity VI: Educational Programs

Montana Tech has developed a post-graduate degree program with a mine waste emphasis. The program contains elements of geophysical, hydrogeological, environmental, geochemical, mining and mineral processing, extractive metallurgical, and biological engineering.

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Organizational Structure
Management Roles and Responsibilities

Management of the Mine Waste Technology Program (MWTP) is specified in the Interagency Agreement. The roles and responsibilities of each organization represented are described below. The MWTP organizational chart is presented in Figure 1

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

The Director of the National Risk Management Research Laboratory (NRMRL) in Cincinnati , Ohio , is the principal U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office of Research and Development representative on the Interagency Agreement Management committee. NRMRL personnel are responsible for management oversight of technical direction, quality assurance, budget, schedule, and scope.

Department of Energy

The Director of the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) is the principal U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) representative on the Interagency Agreement Management committee. NETL personnel provide contract oversight for the MWTP. MSE Technology Applications, Inc. (MSE) is responsible to NETL for adherence to environmental, safety and health requirements; regulatory requirements; National Environmental Protection Act requirements, and conduct of operations of all projects.

MSE Technology Applications, Inc.

MSE, under contract with DOE, is the principal performing contractor for MWTP. The MWTP Program Manager is the point of contact for all mine waste activities. The Program Manager is responsible for program management and coordination, program status reporting, funds distribution, and communications.

An MSE project manager has been assigned to each MWTP project and is responsible to the MWTP Program Manager for overall project direction, control, and coordination. Each project manager is responsible for implementing the project within the approved scope, schedule, and cost. MSE also provides all staff necessary for completing Activities II, III and V and oversight of Activities III, IV, and VI.

Montana Tech of the University of Montana

As a subcontractor to MSE, Montana Tech of the University of Montana is responsible to the MWTP Program Manager for all work performed under Activities I, IV, and VI. The responsibility for overall project direction, control, and coordination of the work to be completed by Montana Tech is assigned to the MWTP Montana Tech Project Manager.

Technical Integration Committee

The Technical Integration Committee (TIC) serves several purposes in the MWTP organization: 1) TIC reviews new proposals and ranks them at a meeting held in Butte, Montana; 2) it reviews progress in meeting the goals of the MWTP and alerts the Interagency Agreement Management Committee to pertinent technical concerns; 3) it provides information on the needs and requirements of the entire mining waste technology user community; and 4) it assists with evaluating technology demonstrations as well as technology transfer. This committee is comprised of representatives from both the public and private sectors.

View - Mine Waste Technology Program Organizational Structure (GIF, 34 Kb)

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Descriptions, Accomplishments, and Future Direction

This section describes the Mine Waste Technology Program (MWTP) Activities I through VI and includes project descriptions, major project accomplishments during fiscal 2002, and future project direction.

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Activity I Overview Issues Identification

This activity focuses on documenting mine waste technical issues and identifying innovative treatment technologies. Issues and technologies are screened and prioritized in volumes related to a specific mine waste problem/market.

Following completion of a volume, appendices are prepared. Each appendix links a candidate technology with a specific site where such a technology might be applied. The technology/site combinations are then screened and ranked.

Technical Issue Status

The status of the volumes approved for development includes:

The status of the appendices for approved projects includes:

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Activity II Overview Quality Assurance

The objective of this activity is to provide support to individual MWTP projects by ensuring all data generated is legally and technically defensible and that it supports the achievement of individual project objectives. The primary means of carrying out this activity is the Quality Assurance Project Plan, which is written for each project. This plan specifies the quality requirements the data must meet, states the project objectives, describes all sampling and measurement activities, and contains standard operating procedures, when applicable. Other functions of this activity include reviewing technical systems, validating data, implementing corrective action, and reporting to project management.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved the MWTP Quality Management Plan in 200l.

View - Mine Waste Technology Quality Management Plan

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Activity IV Overview: Bench-Scale Testing

The objective of this activity is to develop, qualify, and screen techniques that show promise for cost-effective remediation of mine waste. The most promising and innovative techniques will undergo bench- or pilot-scale evaluations and applicability studies to provide an important first step to full-scale field demonstrations. Each experiment is assigned as an approved project with specific goals, budget, schedule, and principal team members.

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Activity IV, Project 22: Organic Matter Degradation Rate in a Sulfate Reducing Wetland

Project Overview

The primary objectives for this project were to determine the organic matter decay rate in sulfate reducing wetlands and improve the understanding of how natural wetlands function in metals-contaminated regions. The biodegradable organic matter serves as an indirect carbon and energy source for sulfate reducing bacteria that convert sulfate in the acid mine drainage to sulfide and bicarbonate, which precipitate heavy metals and neutralize acidity. To make quantitative predictions about long-term sulfate reduction rates in constructed wetlands and solid-substrate bioreactors, an effective mathematical model for the system must exist. Sulfate reduction is needed to precipitate heavy metals, and the sulfate reduction rate determines the rate of water treatment. The rate-limiting step in biogenic sulfide production is organic matter degradation. A first order rate coefficient and quantity of organic matter are needed to predict the organic matter replenishment interval that will keep the treatment system operating properly.

Technology Description

Field tests were run in a constructed wetland at the Upper Blackfoot Mining Complex owned by ASARCO near Lincoln, Montana. The rate coefficient was measured by burying dialysis bags made of regenerated cellulose containing compost in a constructed wetland treating acid mine drainage at the Upper Blackfoot Mining Complex. For the laboratory investigation, two reactors (duplicate experiments) were filled with mushroom compost and solution containing 50milligrams iron per liter and 500 milligrams SO42 per liter and kept in an incubator in a laboratory at Montana Tech. Both total organic carbon (TOC) and chemical oxygen demand (COD) were measured over time in samples from the field wetland and laboratory reactors. Other parameters measured included percent volatile solids, carbohydrates, and nonacid soluble matter.


This project continued from January through December 2002. No significant changes to any of five parameters (COD, TOC, volatile solids, carbohydrates, and nonacid soluble matter) characterizing compost composition occurred during the first year of the research optimization phase of a study on the degradation rate of compost in systems treating acid mine drainage through biological sulfate reduction. The same compost used in the first year will continue to be degraded and monitored in laboratory and field systems for the second year (or Phase II) of the project.

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Activity IV, Project 23: Sulfate Removal Technology Development

Project Overview

Numerous mine waters and process effluent waters contain elevated concentrations of sulfate above the Primary Drinking Water Standard (500 milligrams per liter) or the Secondary Drinking Water Standard (250 milligrams per liter). The objective of the sulfate removal technology project was to investigate the possibility of reducing sulfate to sulfide on a metallic surface (with subsequent precipitation of a metal sulfide) and to investigate the use of compound precipitation to remove sulfate through the formation of a solid phase. A limited number of technologies are presently used for removing sulfate from wastewater such as bioreduction of sulfate to sulfide and membrane exclusion. These technologies have several disadvantages in that they are relatively expensive to operate, require specialized equipment, require long residence time reactors (bioreduction), high pressure (membrane processes like reverse osmosis and nanofiltration), and have difficult solid/liquid separations and membrane fouling problems.

Technology Description

A total of two technological approaches for the lowering of sulfate were investigated for this project including metal reduction of sulfate and precipitation of sulfate bearing compounds. The goal of the experimental study was to achieve a sulfate concentration of less than 250 milligrams per liter.


This project is currently ongoing and was recently granted an extension for completion. Various testing has been completed to investigate both the metal reduction and compound precipitation methods for removing sulfate from wastewater. To date, the compound precipitation portion of the overall study performed on synthetic waters was completed and a portion of the real waters have been exposed to optimized precipitation conditions. Solution samples from these tests are presently being analyzed by ion chromatography. Preliminary tests (i.e., oxidation/reduction scans) have also been completed to investigate the sulfate reduction system. Additional testing and data analysis is proceeding and a final report will be completed FY03.

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Activity IV, Project 24: Algal Bioremediation of the Berkeley Pit Lake System Phase III

Project Overview

The Berkeley Pit Lake is a former open-pit copper mine that operated between 1955 and 1982. In 1982, the mine’s dewatering pumps were shutoff, and the pit began filling with acidic water, which is currently rising at a rate of about 4 meters (m) per year. The Berkeley Pit Lake is approximately 542 m deep and 1.8 kilometers (km) across. In 1984, the Berkeley Pit was designated as a CERCLA Superfund site by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Other important aspects of the Berkeley Pit Lake include low acidic pH values (pH 2.5 to 3.0) and high concentrations of various metals. Previous and ongoing Mine Waste Technology Program research has been investigating the intricacies of the microbial ecology of the Berkeley Pit Lake system such as the diversity of algae, protistans, fungi, and bacteria that inhabit the pit lake.

Technology Description

This project was to further investigate some of the previously isolated extremophiles (specifically algae) from the Berkeley Pit Lake system that may be used as a potential solution for bioremediation. More specifically, the project objectives were as follows: 1) to evaluate the bioremediative potential of the four most rapidly growing species in the Berkeley Pit Lake System; 2) to determine which combination of nutrients will stimulate growth of the best bioremediator of the four isolated species; 3) to determine a temperature profile for the four species to determine their optimal growth temperature; 4) to continue to isolate organisms and determine their bioremediative potential; and 5) monitor algal and bacterial counts from a profile of Pit Lake System waters.


Applicable testing and data analysis is proceeding in accordance with the project objectives, and a final report will be completed FY03. Various on-going data collection activities include separating bacteria from algae by washing through a filter and centrifugation; determining metal/element uptake potential by measuring dissolved metal concentrations before and after adding microorganisms to Berkeley Pit Lake water using inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectrometry (ICP-AES); isolating algae from soil to determine which species are present; isolating/identifying bacteria and moss from soil samples; and evaluating techniques for the rapid isolation and growth of protonema.

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Activity V Overview—Technology Transfer

This activity consists of making technical information developed during Mine Waste Technology Program (MWTP) activities available to industry, academia, and government agencies. Tasks include preparing and distributing MWTP reports, presenting information about MWTP to various groups, publications in journals and magazines, holding Technical Integration Committee meetings, sponsoring mine waste conferences, and working to commercialize treatment technologies.

Fiscal Year Highlights

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Activity VI Overview Training and Education

Through its education and training programs, the Mine Waste Technology Program (MWTP) continues to educate professionals and the general public about the latest information regarding mine and mineral waste cleanup methods and research.

As a result of rapid technology and regulatory changes, professionals working in the mine- and mineral-waste areas often encounter difficulties in upgrading their knowledge and skills in these fields. In recent years, the environmental issues related to the mining and mineral industries have received widespread public, industry, and political attention. While knowledge of current research and technology is vital for dealing with mine and mineral wastes, time and costs may prevent companies from sending employees back to the college classroom.

Through short courses, workshops, conferences, and video outreach, Activity VI of MWTP educates professionals and the general public and brings the specific information being generated by bench-scale research and pilot-scale technologies to those who work in mine- and mineral-waste remediation.

Fiscal 2002 Highlights

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Financial Summary

Total expenditures during the period October 1, 2001, through September 30, 2002, were $3,687,532, including both labor and non-labor expense categories. Individual activity accounts are depicted on the performance graph in Figure 26

Figure 26 Performance Graph. Contact Diana Bless at 513-569-7674 for explanation of chart.

Figure 26. Mine Waste Technology Program Fiscal 2002 performance graph, costs per activity.

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Completed Activities

For information on the following completed Mine Waste Technology Program activities, refer to the web site: http://www.epa.gov/research/NRMRL/std/mwt/

Activity III
Project Number Project Name
Project 1 Remote Mine Site Demonstration
Project 2 Clay-Based Grouting Demonstration
Project 4 Nitrate Removal Demonstration
Project 5 Biocyanide Demonstration
Project 6 Pollutant Magnet
Project 7 Arsenic Oxidation
Project 9 Arsenic Removal
Project 10 Surface Waste Piles --- Source Control
Project 11 Cyanide Heap Biological Detoxification Demonstration
Project 12 Sulfate-Reducing Bacteria Reactive Wall Demonstration
Project 12A Calliope Mine Internet Monitoring System
Project 13 Hydrostatic Bulkhead with Sulfate-Reducing Bacteria
Project 17 Lead Abatement Demonstration
Project 18 Gas-Fed Sulfate-Reducing Bacteria Berkeley Pit Water Treatment
Project 20 Selenium Removal/Treatment Alternatives
Project 27 Remediating Soil and Groundwater with Organic Apatite
Project 31 Remote Autonomous Mine Monitor
Project 35

Biological Prevention of Acid Mine Drainage (Gilt Edge Mine)

Activity IV
Project Number Project Name
Project 1 Berkeley Pit Water Treatment
Project 2 Sludge Stabilization
Project 3 Photoassisted Electron Transfer Reactions Research
Project 3A Photoassisted Electron Transfer Reactions for Metal-Complexed Cyanide
Project 3B Photoassisted Electron Transfer Reactions for Berkeley Pit Water
Project 4 Metal Ion Removal from Acid Mine Wastewaters by Neutral Chelating Polymers
Project 5 Removal of Arsenic as Storable Stable Precipitates
Project 7 Berkeley Pit Innovative Technologies Project
Project 8 Pit Lake System Characterization and Remediation for the Berkeley Pit
Project 9 Pit Lake System Deep Water Sediment/Pore Water Characterization and Interactions
Project 10 Pit Lake System Biological Survey of Berkeley Pit Water
Project 11 Pit Lake System Characterization and Remediation for Berkeley Pit Phase II
Project 12 An Investigation to Develop a Technology for Removing Thallium from Mine Wastewaters
Project 13 Sulfide Complexes Formed from Mill Tailings Project
Project 14 Artificial Neural Networks as an Analysis Tool for Geochemical Data
Project 16 Pit Lake System Characterization and Remediation for Berkeley Pit ¾ Phase III
Project 17 Mine Dump Reclamation Using Tickle Grass Project
Project 18 Investigation of Natural Wetlands Near Abandoned Mine Sites
Project 19 Removing Oxyanions of Arsenic & Selenium from Mine Wastewaters Using Galvanically
Enhanced Cementation Technology
Project 20 Algal Bioremediation of Berkeley Pit Water, Phase II

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Key Contacts

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Roger C. Wilmoth
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Research and Development
National Risk Management Research Laboratory
26 W. Martin Luther King Drive
Cincinnati, OH 45268
Telephone: (513) 569-7509
Fax: (513) 569-7471
MSE Technology Applications, Inc.: Jeff LeFever, Program Manager
MSE Technology Applications, Inc.
P.O. Box 4078
Butte, MT 59702
Telephone: (406) 494-7358
Fax: (406) 494-7230
U.S. Department of Energy:
Madhav Ghate
U.S. Department of Energy
National Energy Technology Laboratory
P.O. Box 880
3610 Collins Ferry Road
Morgantown, WV 26507-0880
Telephone: (304) 285-4638
Fax: (304) 285-4135
Montana Tech:
Karl E. Burgher, Montana Tech MWTP
Project Manager
Montana Tech of the University of Montana
1300 West Park Street
Butte, MT 59701-8997
Telephone: (406) 496-4311
Fax: (406) 496-4116

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