Sustainable Co-Management of Acid Mine Drainage with Struvite Synthesis Effluent: Pragmatic Synergies in Circular Economy

Vhahangwele Masindi, Ryneth Mbhele, Spyros Foteinis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
21 Downloads (Pure)


Herein, the alkaline supernatant of a struvite recovery system from municipal wastewater was successfully co-managed with acid mine drainage (AMD). Various ratios (v/v) of AMD to struvite supernatant were examined, and the quality of the passively co-treated effluent and of the generated sludge were examined using state-of-the-art analytical techniques including ICP-OES, FE-SEM/FIB/EDX, XRD, XRF, and FTIR. The optimum ratio was 1:9, where metals and sulphate were largely removed from AMD, i.e., from higher to lower score Fe (~100%) ≥ Pb (~100%) ≥ Ni (99.6%) ≥ Cu (96%) ≥ As (95%) ≥ Al (93.7%) ≥ Zn (92.7%) > Ca (90.5%) > Mn (90%) ≥ Cr (90%) > sulphate (88%) > Mg (85.7%), thus implying that opportunities for mineral recovery could be pursued. The pH of the final effluent was regulated to acceptable discharge levels, i.e., 6.5 instead of 2.2 (AMD) and 10.5 (struvite supernatant), while a notable reduction in the electrical conductivity further implied the attenuation of contaminants. Overall, results suggest the feasibility of the passive co-treatment of these wastewater matrices and that opportunities for direct scaling up exist (e.g., using waste stabilization ponds). Furthermore, apart from the initial recovery of struvite from municipal wastewater, metals could also be recovered from AMD and water could be reclaimed, therefore introducing circular economy and zero liquid discharge in wastewater treatment and management.
Original languageEnglish
Article number60
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 4 Apr 2023


  • UN SDG 6: clean water and sanitation
  • magnesium ammonium phosphate (MAP)
  • phosphate and ammonia recovery-recycling
  • sustainable water and wastewater treatment
  • waste valorization and beneficiation
  • zero liquid discharge (ZLD) process

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • General Environmental Science


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