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Coal Authority wins metal mine water clean up contract

dylife mine site

The Coal Authority has won the contract to clean up metal-polluted rivers across Wales.

The year-long contract will see the Coal Authority carry out four feasibility studies on priority metal mine sites and the development of a long-term metal mine programme for Natural Resources Wales (NRW).

Looking at proposals for remediating Dylife, which is the main source of metals in the Dyfi catchment, the Coal Authority will also be undertaking the remediation at Frongoch-Wemyss that could improve 32km of watercourse. In addition treatment of mine water from the Cwmystwyth mine complex that impacts approximately 33km of the Afon Ystwyth.

Remediation plans for the Cwm Rheidol mine site 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 pre-selected 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 water bodies are unable to achieve ‘Good Status’ under the national Water Framework Directive.

The Coal Authority acting head of environment Carl Banton said: “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.”

Natural Resources Wales geoscience team member Peter Stanley added: “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.”

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