European project to implement new purifying method of waters deriving from mines in Huelva

The European Commission approved the Life Etad Project (Ecological Treatment of Acid Drainage) LIFE12 ENV/ES/000250, whose goal is the development and implementation of a new method of water purification derived from mines. In this project, which counts on a 2.650.738 million Euros budget and an completion time till December 2017, participate the Consejería de Medio Ambiente y Ordenación del Territorio through Agencia de Medio Ambiente y Agua,  Sacyr Construcción and the University of Huelva.

The project aims at the Conception and optimisation of the passive treatment process of acid mine drainage in a standard location in the Iberian Pyrite Belt, as well as the construction and activation of a passive treatment technology station, which will thus be a contribute to achieve the goals of the National Hydrological Plan of the Tinto, Odiel and Piedras rivers. Likewise, purified waters are to be achieved to be used as irrigation resource for vineyards and citrus production, a feasible alternative in the affected areas.

The beauty of the Corta Atalaya of the Rio Tinto Mines

The work previously developed by the Consejería de Medio Ambiente y Ordenación del Territorio, consist of studying the potential locations and selecting the implementation of the site for future construction as well as its basic design, definition of operations and a process layout. An innovation has been the station’s basic equipment designed to run by means of gravity, which avoids electricity consumption.

The results previewed state the capacity of full scale passive technologies as feasible treatment of acid mine drainage, the improvement of the water quality in the area and the resource to technologies that would solve a serious environmental problem that affects water degraded by the mine activity, both in Andalucía and in other locations in Europe, since the Life Etad project aims at presenting itself as a reference pilot project for other areas affected by similar problems in the European continent.

The intense mining activity performed in the Iberian Pyrite Belt resulted in abandoned mines and mining waste in slag heaps, sludge deposits, open air pits, etc. These degraded areas are the main contamination source of both surface and ground waters in the Odiel basin, due to the acid drainage they generate. The acid mine drainage consist of water that undergoes an alteration of its PH to acid levels. The research for new treatment methods for this acid water is crucial to improve the quality and progressive recovery of the of the Odiel river.

This project arises then as the follow up of the intense research that has been conducted these last years, aiming at a possible solution by means of passive treatment of the acidic discharges. Treatments such as Anoxic Limestone Drains (ALD), the Alkalinity Producing Systems or the Sulphate Reducing Bioreactors, once implemented, would require a relatively low upkeep cost. 49,99 % of the whole budget of approximately 2.650.738 Euros are from community funds and the rest is sponsored by the Life Etad partners.

 

Source: Huelva buenas noticias

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