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Durham University

Department of Engineering

Staff Profile

Publication details for Professor Karen Johnson

Bamforth, S.M., Manning, D.A.C., Singleton, I., Younger, P.L. & Johnson, K.L. (2006). Manganese removal from mine waters - investigating the occurrence and importance of manganese carbonates. Applied Geochemistry 21(8): 1274-1287.

Author(s) from Durham


Manganese is a common contaminant of mine water and other waste waters. Due to its high solubility over a wide pH range, it is notoriously difficult to remove from contaminated waters. Previous systems that effectively remove Mn from mine waters have involved oxidising the soluble Mn(II) species at an elevated pH using substrates such as limestone and dolomites. However it is currently unclear what effect the substrate type has upon abiotic Mn removal compared to biotic removal by in situ micro-organisms (biofilms). In order to investigate the relationship between substrate type, Mn precipitation and the biofilm community, net-alkaline Mn-contaminated mine water was treated in reactors containing one of the pure materials: dolomite, limestone, magnesite and quartzite. Mine water chemistry and Mn removal rates were monitored over a 3-month period in continuous-flow reactors. For all substrates except quartzite, Mn was removed from the mine water during this period, and Mn minerals precipitated in all cases. In addition, the plastic from which the reactor was made played a role in Mn removal. Manganese oxyhydroxides were formed in all the reactors; however, Mn carbonates (specifically kutnahorite) were only identified in the reactors containing quartzite and on the reactor plastic. Magnesium-rich calcites were identified in the dolomite and magnesite reactors, suggesting that the Mg from the substrate minerals may have inhibited Mn carbonate formation. Biofilm community development and composition on all the substrates was also monitored over the 3-month period using denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE). The DGGE profiles in all reactors showed no change with time and no difference between substrate types, suggesting that any microbiological effects are independent of mineral substrate. The identification of Mn carbonates in these systems has important implications for the design of Mn treatment systems in that the provision of a carbonate-rich substrate may not be necessary for successful Mn precipitation.


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