Coal Authority involved in remediation of abandoned Welsh mines

The Coal Authority in the UK has been awarded a contract by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) as part of its programme to clean up metal-polluted rivers across Wales

Staff reporter
Dylife mine site. Credit: © Paul Edwards, Natural Resources Wales

Dylife mine site. Credit: © Paul Edwards, Natural Resources Wales

PRESS RELEASE: As part of the year-long contract, the Coal Authority will carry out four feasibility studies on priority metal mine sites in addition to other mine-related assessments.

The Coal Authority will be looking at proposals for remediating the Dylife mine site, which is the main source of metals in the Dyfi catchment, that impacts over 35km of watercourse; remediation at Frongoch-Wemyss that could improve 32km of watercourse; treatment of mine water from the Cwmystwyth mine complex that impacts approximately 33km of the Afon Ystwyth; and remediation plans for the Cwm Rheidol mine site that is located in the Rheidol Valley, with the impacts of the mine water extending to the coast at Aberystwyth, and additional assessments for Parys Mountain which is one of the most polluting metal mines in the UK.

The Coal Authority will conduct assessments of the legacy and features of preselected mine sites together with an inspection of selected mine drainage adits and shafts. The organisation will also be identifying the best way to compile a cost-efficient metal mine programme, which could run for the next 15 years.

The work is all part of the Metal Mines Strategy for Wales, which was originally launched in 2002 to tackle pollution from abandoned mines. Abandoned mines present significant sources of both land contamination and water pollution and are the main reason why Welsh waterbodies are unable to achieve ‘Good Status' under the national Water Framework Directive.

Carl Banton, acting head of environment for the Coal Authority, said the authority is looking forward to working with NRW on this important project that will help protect and restore the environment.

He added: "We are delighted to be playing our part in the Welsh metal mine strategy. We believe that our ongoing work and expertise currently being utilised within the English metal mine programme will allow us to help NRW move this project forward and achieve its objectives for cleaner watercourses.

"Our task is to identify the best solutions for a number of different priority sites that have been identified during previous scoping work and to find out how feasible they are to implement. We will also be carrying out other inspections of various different sites."

Peter Stanley of Natural Resources Wales Geoscience Team said: "The metal mine programme in Wales is at a very exciting stage restoring rivers back to health.

"Metal mining is an important part of our heritage, once providing an economic stimulus driving the industrial revolution. Abandoned metal mines have however left a distinct mark on our environment and cause pollution to more than 600km of rivers and streams.

"The mines and their discharges require cleaning up to revitalise today's environment for river wildlife to thrive and people to enjoy.

"The Coal Authority will complete studies at four complex sites to enable remediation including water treatment solutions to be designed at two of these sites in preparation for construction. The Coal Authority is also assisting with additional assessments at Parys Mountain and addressing mine hazards to reduce environmental impacts and help make them safer. We very much look forward to working with them to help deliver these improvements."

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