February 2003
Volume 55    Issue 2

Tale of two pit lakes: Initial results of a three-year study of the Main Zone and Waterline pit lakes near Houston, British Columbia, Canada

Mining Engineering , 2003, Vol. 55, No. 2, pp. 25-30
Crusius, J.; Pieters, R.; Leung, A.; Whittle, P.; Pedersen, T.; Lawrence, G.; McNee, J.J.

Pit lakes are becoming increasingly common in North America as well as in the rest of the world. They are created as openpit mines fill passively with ground water and surface inflows on cessation of mining activity. In many instances, the water quality in these pit lakes does not meet regulatory requirements due to a number of influences. The most important are the oxidation of sulfide minerals and the associated release of acid and metals and the flushing of soluble metals during pit filling. Examples of pit lakes with severe water-quality problems include the Berkeley Pit lake (Butte, MT) and the Liberty Pit lake (Nevada), whose waters are characterized by a pH near 3 and Cu concentrations as high as ~150 mg/L (Miller et al., 1996; Davis and Eary, 1997). The importance of the problem can be seen in the fact that some of these sites in the United States are Superfund sites.

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