Research

Cleaning up Mine Water Pollution

Cleaning up Mine Water Pollution

Civil Engineering experts at Newcastle University are tackling the global problem of precious freshwater pollution by metals discharged by active and abandoned mines.

The expertise of the Newcastle team, led by Dr Adam Jarvis and Dr Jaime Amezaga, has shaped international guidelines on mining pollution management as well as policy and practice at a national and regional level.

Already the daily practice of thousands of professionals worldwide is informed by the research, which has helped shape the Global Acid Rock Drainage Guide.

An initiative of the world’s major mining houses, this is the first comprehensive international document on mining pollution management.

Cleaning up water from mines
Photo of Dr Adam Jarvis

Conflict resolution

The value of the work came to the fore during one of Peru’s most high profile mining conflicts at Tintaya mine in Espinar, which centred around issues of alleged pollution and its impact on the local environment.

The Civil Engineering experts were called upon by the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development to provide policy advice and technical support to help bring about a resolution to the dispute.

Currently, the team is trialling a system it designed to remove metal from water without the need for energy or chemicals.

The ‘vertical flow pond’, in the heart of the Lake District National Park, will be the UK’s first fully-operational, large-scale passive mine water treatment scheme. Working with:

and funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, it uses compost and limestone to treat metal-rich mine water. It was constructed at the site of the former waste lagoons at Force Crag mine outside Keswick and the ponds are now up and running.

The aim is to test the effectiveness of the technology on a large scale. If successful the method could pave the way for cleaning up hundreds of abandoned metal mines across England and potentially across the world.

Video: Cleaning up mine water pollution

Discover More

  • Read Dr Adam Jarvis’s profile, research interests and publications
  • See the BBC News coverage of ‘vertical flow ponds’ project

Contact Information

Dr Adam Jarvis
Email: adam.jarvis@ncl.ac.uk
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 4871