Verum Group Acid-Base Accounting sets international benchmark

South Island robin examines equipment

A South Island robin/kakaruwai checks out water quality parameters at a Verum Group downstream monitoring site on the West Coast - reminding us of the importance of site rehabilitation not just for human health. Image: Hannah Christenson, Verum Group.

Verum Group Scientists Drs Hana Christenson and James Pope have developed some of the only standardised reference materials for acid-base accounting that are commercially available in the world.

James says it isn’t rocket science, but it was something that was lacking for those with a need for this type of geochemistry. Acid-Base Accounting is a suite of tests used in mining and land rehabilitation. The tests characterise mine waste so best-practice management can be carried out and problematic discharges (leachate) such as acid mine drainage can be minimised.

The tests include standard acid-base accounting static tests to measure the potential for acid formation or neutralisation at a site, as well as long-term kinetic leaching tests to measure changes in leachate composition with time. The data can be used to develop mine waste management plans in line with the global best practice.

Hana, who specialises in the distribution and mobility of contaminants and nutrients in aquatic systems, says that laboratory methods and results for acid-base accounting can be difficult to benchmark, this gave them the motivation to develop standard reference materials for acid-base accounting analysis.

“These tests are critical for mining operations to classify waste, development management methods, predict mine drainage chemistry, schedule materials for optimal rehabilitation outcomes, and have confidence in their environmental management plans. Because they rely on relatively simple analytical procedures, laboratories around the world typically rely on internal calibrations as a measure of quality control.

“However, this comes with pitfalls, subtleties, and opportunities for operator bias in acid-base accounting that can result in spurious results. Having standard reference materials provides quality control in acid-base accounting analysis.”

The benchmark testing methods have been or are in the process of being adopted throughout Australasia, South America, and Africa with interest now growing in North America as well.

Further information

Find out more about Verum Group’s Standardised Reference Materials for Acid Base Accounting.

Date posted: 10 March 2021

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