n Journal of the South African Institution of Civil Engineering = Joernaal van die Suid-Afrikaanse Instituut van Siviele Ingenieurswese - Disintegration of concrete construction induced by acid mine drainage attack

Volume 58, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1021-2019



This paper presents findings from microanalytical investigation conducted on disintegrated concrete that had been used to construct a weir within a coal mine in South Africa. The concrete was in contact with polluted mine water, commonly referred to as acid (AMD). Accordingly, the weir had been exposed to AMD decant which led to disintegration of concrete due to chemical attack. Investigations were conducted by optical microscopy (OM), scanning electron microscopy (SEM) equipped with energy dispersive X-ray spectrometry (EDX), and X-ray diffraction (XRD). The field samples examined consisted of soft, broken concrete chunks and a whitish powdery substance that had crystallised and formed a surface coating on certain cracked locations on the deteriorated concrete. No evidence of pyrite oxidation was found in the investigation. The observed deterioration is discussed in relation to acid attack mechanism and its possible co-existence with external sulphate attack process.

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