Use of constructed wetlands for treating mine waste leachates – predicting longevity and management implications

Project AttributeProject Details
Project TitleUse of constructed wetlands for treating mine waste leachates – predicting longevity and management implications
EPA Project Code2018-W-DS-32
Lead OrganisationUniversity of Limerick (UL)
CoordinatorRonan Courtney
EPA Research 2014 – 2020 Theme(s)Water: Theme 3: Innovative Water Technologies
EPA Research Pillars
Project Start and End DatesStart: 01/03/2019
End (if applicable): 29/02/2020
Revised End Date (if applicable): 29/08/2020
EPA Project TypeDesk Study
EPA Award TypeSTRIVE – Project Based Awards
Current Project StatusGrant Awarded
Total Funding Amount70093.80
Project Abstract/DescriptionConstructed wetlands (CW) are increasingly employed for leachate treatment as part of closure planning for mine sites; however their life expectancy and longevity of performance is relatively unknown and no long-term studies have been carried out in Ireland. This proposed study will develop an international database on the use of CW systems treating mine wastes with the objective of identifying key operating parameters and longevity of such systems. Through sampling and analysis of established CW systems at Boliden Tara Pb/Zn mine and Rusal Aughinish alumina processing plant, a series of soil saturation index studies will contribute to our understanding of the removal mechanisms for contaminants of concern. Additionally the influence of leachate characteristics (e.g. pH, suspended solids, predominance of metal types) on removal efficiencies will be investigated. Understanding the capacity of CW systems to treat these complex metal mixtures will contribute to assessing their expected lifespan and the requirements for intervention and management post-closure. This project directly relates to the current EPA research strategy, in particular its requirement to mitigate the negative environmental, social and health impacts of the raw materials sector. This project will produce a report and database (placed in the EPA SAFER database) of key wetland process parameters and operational mechanisms, a final project report, three peer reviewed publications and a conference presentation. In addition, a post-project dissemination workshop will take place involving interested parties from bodies such as the EPA, BRAVO – Critical Raw Materials, and the research community. The project will also enable research capacity building where outputs are expected to contribute to proposal submission for upscaling and translating into demonstration pilots with industry partners, e.g. ERA-MIN submission.
EPA Scientific OfficerLisaJohnson

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