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Collaborative Agreement relating to Managing mining pollution for the Water Framework Directive (MAGIC) - WT0962

.The Environment Agency and Defra have developed a joint approach to manage pollution from abandoned non-coal mines for the Water Framework Directive. The original collaborative agreement covered Defra funding for research contracts to be commissioned on:
1. Developing new low-cost sustainable treatment technologies for metal mines (“mitigation of pollution from abandoned mines”) £170k. (SC090024/1)
2. Understanding how to set water quality targets (alternative objectives) to protect ecosystems impacted by abandoned mines over many decades (“ecological indicators”) £100k. (SC090024/2)

The first project (SC090024/1) involved a series of field and laboratory experiments to develop and test new low-cost sustainable treatment technologies for metal-rich mine waters. This project designed, built and is still operating a bacterial sulphate reduction (BSR) pilot treatment plant at Nenthead (Cumbria). This pilot plant has been operating for twelve months, and is due to be decommissioned at the end of the current project (October 2011). Decommissioning the pilot plant and terminating the data collection would leave a number of critical questions unanswered and undermine the benefits of the original project. This is due to scientific uncertainties and not poor performance by the contractor.

Further pilot plants are in operation at Cwm Rheidol and Force Crag. The results from these pilot plants have indicated the potential benefits of these new treatment technologies but further work is needed to evaluate long-term performance so that the engineering design guidelines for full-scale systems can be written. The capital cost of full-scale systems is likely to be at least £1m and so we must have robust evidence that these systems will be effective to deliver benefits for the Water Framework Directive.

It was agreed at recent project steering group meetings (EA, Defra and Coal Authority) that we should consider extending operation of the Nenthead plant for a further 12 months, and include investigation of the performance of the Force Crag pilot plant within this project
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2011

To: 2012

Cost: £343,000
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Newcastle University