Acid Mine Drainage

If we are going to be talking about mining in my class, I would also like to discuss some of the environmental issues involved in mining.  There has been a lot of controversy recently about mining and its potential effects of fisheries.  Although the most controversial proposed mine (Pebble) is fairly far from Fairbanks and students may not be aware of it, I think discussing some of the issues involved may help “hook” the interest of middle school students.  In particular, I think learning a little bit about acid mine drainage would help student learn about the issues and also help them understand the geology of mineral deposits.  This site I think does a nice job of explaining acid mine drainage in Alaska and some of the possible treatments.  In discussing this information we could discuss the fact that the geology of both the Fort Knox deposit and the Pogo deposit make acid mine drainage less of an issue, at least initially, because of the neutralization potential of the surrounding rock.  I would ideally also like to get a guest speaker to visit the class, perhaps someone from the Department of Natural Resources who is or has been involved in the permitting of large mines in Alaska.