The runoff often contains chemicals used in processes the ore, sulfuric acid, iron pyrites, and other mine runoff runs to waterways. Reclamation efforts can slowly return polluted sites to a more acceptable state.
“Acid mine drainage (AMD), or acid rock drainage (ARD), refers to the outflow of acidic water from (usually abandoned) metal mines or coal mines.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acid_mine_drainage This drainage impacts the pH of the waterway. Lime is added to waterways to treat the acid pH.
There are other chemical issues with copper runoff there is the oxidation of pyrites, the production of ferrous ions and subsequently ferric ions, it is chemically complex, and this complexity has considerably inhibited the design of effective treatment options.
This is pyrite oxidation:
2FeS2(s) + 7O2(g) + 2H2O(l) → 2Fe2+(aq) + 4SO42-(aq) + 4H+(aq)
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