Pit lakes created after the completion of open-pit coal mining : A Part from the Book Chapter : Ecological Approach on Investigating the Open Pit Lakes Developed in Oltenia Mining Region: A Case Study of Urdari Lake, Romania

Pit lakes created after the completion of open-pit coal mining operations have different characteristics compared to those created in metallic mines and quarries. Their morphometry depends on the shape of the coal seam and the type of mining method used. Large scale open-pit coal mines are usually developed on relatively level terrain in sedimentary rocks of low mechanical strength, while overburden is removed and coal is mined along a long linear front. The lakes of the last category, those resulting from flooding the remaining gaps of some former quarries and open-pits, from which useful minerals were extracted, whether formed voluntarily or involuntarily, aroused the interest of researchers in several directions, such as: the geotechnical risks posed by these lakes to neighboring areas during and after flooding ; the evolution of the basin from a morphological point of view , the influence of the rocks that make up the lake basin on the water chemistry (as some open pit lakes are acidic); evolution of water quality; evolution of vegetation and fauna installed spontaneously and/or by human interventions; their ecology, functionality and dynamics; usage possibilities for various purposes (recreational lakes, sport fishing, irrigation tanks, flood protection, etc.); influences on zonal hydrological regimes; the influences exerted on the local microclimates, etc.

Author(s) Details:

Florin Faur,
Department of Environmental Engineering and Geology, University of Petrosani, University Street, No. 20, 332006, Petrosani, Romania.
Izabela-Maria Apostu,
Department of Environmental Engineering and Geology, University of Petrosani, University Street, No. 20, 332006, Petrosani, Romania.
Maria Lazăr,
Department of Environmental Engineering and Geology, University of Petrosani, University Street, No. 20, 332006, Petrosani, Romania.


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Recent global research developments in Research and Impacts of Pit Lakes from Open-Pit Coal Mining

1. “The Future Direction of Pit Lakes: Part 1, Research Needs” [1]:
o Abstract: Pit lakes are common features resulting from open-pit mining. They can pose significant risks but also offer beneficial end-use opportunities. However, many processes influencing these risks and opportunities remain poorly understood, which complicates pit lake closure and management.
o Recommendations: The study recommends nine research areas, organized by physico-chemical and ecological complexity, where greater understanding of fundamental pit lake processes would lead to improved management and reuse. These areas include aspects related to water quality, drainage, and ecological reserves.
o Focus Countries: The research involves experts from Germany, Canada, Australia, and the USA.
2. “Chemical Water Parameters of End Pit Lakes in Abandoned Coal Mines” [2]:
o Abstract: This study emphasizes the importance of determining and monitoring the chemical water characteristics of end pit lakes formed from abandoned open-pit coal mines. Understanding these parameters is crucial for assessing anthropogenic impact.
o Key Factors: The chemical water parameters play a key role in evaluating environmental problems associated with end pit lakes.
3. “Are Pit Lakes an Environmentally Sustainable Closure Option for Coal Mines?” [3]:
o Objective: The study investigates whether pit lakes can serve as sustainable mine closure options in South Africa.
o Water Balance: Major factors driving the water balance of pit lakes include direct rainfall, runoff, inflow from old mine workings, and groundwater infiltration. Evaporation or discharge onto the surface are the major losses.
o Design as Terminal Sinks: Well-designed pit lakes can become “terminal sinks,” providing sustainable end uses.
4. “Study on Evolution of Groundwater-Lake System in Typical Prairie Open-Pit Coal Mining Areas” [4]:
o Challenges: Prairie open-pit coal mining areas face environmental geological problems due to drought climate and extensive groundwater drainage. These issues include hydrological cycle imbalance, soil desertification, and prairie degradation.

References

1. Schultze, M., Vandenberg, J., McCullough, C.D. et al. The future direction of pit lakes: part 1, Research needs. Mine Water Environ 41, 533–543 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10230-022-00850-1

2. Akburak, S., Kul, A.A., Makineci, E. et al. Chemical water parameters of end pit lakes in abandoned coal mines. Arab J Geosci 13, 569 (2020).
https://doi.org/10.1007/s12517-020-05598-y 

3. Johnstone, A. C. (2021). Are pit lakes an environmentally sustainable closure option for opencast coal mines?. Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, 121(10), 531-536.

4. Xia, M., Dong, S., Chen, Y. et al. Study on evolution of groundwater-lake system in typical prairie open-pit coal mine area. Environ Geochem Health 43, 4075–4087 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10653-021-00890-6

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