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Ely Copper Mine Nicholas Dove, Meghan Arpino, Kelsey McAuliff, Jordan Monahan, Nikola Pejovik, and Walt Auten.

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Presentation on theme: "Ely Copper Mine Nicholas Dove, Meghan Arpino, Kelsey McAuliff, Jordan Monahan, Nikola Pejovik, and Walt Auten."— Presentation transcript:

1 Ely Copper Mine Nicholas Dove, Meghan Arpino, Kelsey McAuliff, Jordan Monahan, Nikola Pejovik, and Walt Auten

2 COPPER (Cu) Mined primarily in North and South America Ranks behind only iron and aluminum in quantity consumed in America 570 known alloys including brass and bronze Integral to plumbing, electrical wiring, telecommunications and automobile construction Estimated that Americans born in 2008 will use roughly 1,300 lbs throughout their lifetime 20 mines account for 99% of copper production in U.S. 1.19 million metric tonnes produced in U.S. in 2007 Copper ore typically contains between 0.67 and 1.0% Copper Statue of Liberty used 80 tons!

3 Open-pit Mining Clear "overburden” Collect blasted rock and haul away for "beneficiation" Crush and mill rock into a "slurry" Add chemicals that increase pH to seperate the metal from the rock to create a "copper concentrate” Dry and smelt copper concentrate

4 Aftermath Waste Rock - all overburden removed from the site Tailings - very fine rock and metallic compounds separated during beneficiation process. Also mine water, sludge, spent ore, spent electrolyte, raffinate (spent leaching solution), spent solvents, and used oil. Dealt with in a variety of ways...

5 Waste Rock Piles images from:

6 Tailings Pond image from: image from:

7 Acid Mine Drainage Waste from mining consists of rock that contains sulfides and metals that were not targeted in the mining operation. In the presence of oxygen and water complex reactions occur that create sulfuric acid and mobilize the metals. Water (from runoff, snowmelt, storm events) flows over the waste and into neighboring bodies of water resulting in acidification and metal deposition. The metal precipitates and can discolor the water and smother aquatic life, greatly disrupting ecosystem functions and affecting health.

8 Ely Mine, Vershire VT (Image from: Image from

9 Ely Mine In operation 1821-1905. 1,800 acre property, 275-300 acres used for mining activities. Only activity since 1920 was the removal of "dump-ore" from 1949-1950. Now owned by Ely Forest Inc. and Green Crow Corp. commercial timber.


11 Purpose Statement : The goal of this study is to investigate the environmental risks associated with the Ely Copper Mine and its proposed remediation plan

12 Objectives 1.Find the current state of chemical contamination (Al, Co, Cu, Fe, pH, ect.) 1.Research species in Ely Brook that may be negatively impacted by the contamination 1.Assess current remediation efforts and propose potential future techniques for remediation


14 (Figure from :Nobis Inc.)

15 Current State Analysis Analyzed surface water, pore water, and sediment quality. Assessed ecosystem health. (

16 (USGSAquaticassessment, 2010)

17 Hyalella azteca Chironomus dilutus USGS Toxicity Test (Images from: NY DEC)

18 USGSAquaticassessment, 2010)

19 Invertebrate Abundance and Richness USGSAquaticassessment, 2010)


21 Copper Concentration (ug/L) in Surface Waters.

22 Surface water concentration, ug/L USGSAquaticassessment, 2010)

23 metal or pH Upstream Background On-site Ely Brook downstream of the mine Chronic AWQC for Aquatic Life 123 Al73034,000140070093087 Cd0.02170.0510.29<.021.1 Co0.05630116.20.243.06 Cu215,0003001700.711.8 Fe70071,00017008003601000 Mn593,600110553880.3 Ni0.831403.620.6552 Pb0.8231.10.650.53.2 Zn202,300462710106 Lowest pH6.5536.26.876.346.5-9 *Metal Concentrations = ug/L

24 Current State of Adjacent Waters Highly contaminated and acidic waters are flowing into local streams and surface waters Concentrations of metals downstream are higher than background concentrations 9 metals exceed EPA Ambient Water Quality Criteria It is possible (probable) that this pollution is having deleterious effects on aquatic organisms

25 Copper vs Brook Trout and Blacknose dace These coldwater fish are important to the risk assessment of copper because of how they are affected and what effect they have on the ecosystem. Elevated copper concentrations can kill sensitive macroinvertebrates that these fish rely on o Collapsing the food chain from below Acute effects of copper: o Toxic to the gills o Mortality of eggs and juveniles o Stress

26 Copper vs Brook Trout and Blacknose dace Copper bioaccumulates in the gills and flesh of Brook Trout and Blacknose dace SO: What ever eats these (be it an eagle, bear, human or 'pede) fish gets a dose of copper that magnifies exponentially up the food chain Pollutant movement (thanks Breck) out of the riverine ecosystem The fish become more tolerant to copper over time, so Cu can accumulate in very high conce- trations over longer periods Collapse of the food chain from above


28 Acidic waters vs Brook Trout and Blacknose dace The on-site pH is 3! STRESS!!!

29 Concentration of Copper in Fish Species. USGSAquaticassessment, 2010)

30 Landis et al. 1998, p. 295

31 Remediation efforts

32 Ely Specific Remediation Parameters Ongoing acid rock drainage from Ely has significant impacts on sediment, surface water, and groundwater (Nobis, 2011) The site is not considered a threat to human health. Drinking water, dust and soil exposure, and recreation considered. Mine drainage has had severe ecological impacts on aquatic habitats. Mine waste impacts terrestrial ecosystem at the soil invertebrate level.

33 Remediation Techniques Vs. (Cohen et al., 2008) (Menga, 19980

34 Phytoextraction Technique which uses the ability of certain plants to remove dangerous elements from the soil.

35 Phytoextraction (NASCIMENTO)

36 Phytoextraction Plants with the ability to hyperaccumulate metals are called metallophytes

37 Phytoextraction Corn and Sunflowers are great hyperaccumulators because their great biomass allows for a large uptake of metal

38 Phytoextraction Plants must be harvested in order to remove heavy metals. Plants are then incinerated and metals can be recycled. High Cost

39 Chemical Remediation Techniques 1. Chemical and bacterial leaching to remove heavy metals in solid wastes 2. Electrochemical recovery of metals from waste water. 3. In-situ immobilization of heavy metals in waste water. 4. Reactive barriers for contaminated leachate. 5. Photochemical removal of metals and sufates from waste water. 6. Chemical precipitation of metals from contaminated water.

40 Dosers - Active Remediation - Powered electrically or by a waterwheel - Add alkaline material to the water (e.g. hyrdated lime, pebble quicklime, & limestone)

41 Proven Effectiveness of Dosers - North Branch of the Potomac River - Location of doser can influence how effectively acid mine drainage is reduced. -pH is now in compliance with Maryland's water quality standards - Acidification following extreme storm events is still a possibility

42 Aquafix Acid Mine Treatments - Aquafix units can operate year round, and be housed inside heated sheds if necessary

43 Suggested locations for dosers - Water bodies that are most affected by acid mine drainage from the Ely mine. -Water bodies that are most frequently used for recreation and other purposes. - Schoolhouse brook before the East Branch Ompompanoosac River - Install one at first to see if a doser is effective in this setting

44 Current pH Levels and Goals for pH levels pH for heavy metals to precipiate: Generally 6-9 Al- 5.0-9.0 Mg- 9.5 Ferros Iron- 8.5 Ferric Iron- 3.5 Potential for co-precipitation of some metals Source:Skousen, Hilton, and Faulkner, 1996

45 Recommendations for Remediation at the Ely Mine - Phytoextraction at the site can lower the input of metals into the stream and help restore its health - Dosers at the streams can further neutralize the pH (Focus on Ely Brook)

46 Literature Cited Ebbs, S. D., Lasat, M. M., Brady, D. J., Cornish, J., Gordon, R. and Kochian, L.V.: 1997,‘Phytoextraction of cadmium and zinc from a contaminated soil’, J. Environ. Qual. 26, 1424–1430. Hansen, E., Collins, A., Zegre, S., & Hereford, A. (2010). The Benefits of Acid Mine Drainage Remediation on the North Branch Potomac River: Downstream Strategies. NASCIMENTO, Clístenes Williams Araújo do and XING, Baoshan. Phytoextraction: a review on enhanced metal availability and plant accumulation. Sci. agric. (Piracicaba, Braz.) [online].2006, vol.63, n.3, pp. 299-311. ISSN 0103-9016. Nobis Engineering Inc. Remedial Investigation Executive Summary, Ely Copper Mine Vershire Vermont. Executive Summary, Project 80024. 2011. United State Environmental Protection Agency, July 2011. Retrieved Web. 17 Feb. 2012.. Seal, Robert R., Kiah G. Richard, Nadine M. Paitak, John M. Besser, James F. Coles, Jane M. Hammarstrom, Denise M. Argue, Denise M. Levitan, Jeffrey R. Deacon, and Christopher G. Ingersoll. Aquatic Assessment of the Ely Copper Mine Superfund Site, Vershire Vermont. U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2010-5084. 2010. Web. 16 Feb. 2012.. Skousen, J., Hilton, T., & Faulkner, B. (1996). Overview of Acid Mine Drainage Treatment with Chemicals. Retrieved April 19, 2012, from Slavkov, Dragan. "Waste Waters from Copper Ores Mining/floatation in Bucim' Mine: Characterization and Remediation." Desalination 213 (2007): 65-71. Print.

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