Metal mine water pollution

Cwm Rheidol Adit no. 9

Wales has a long history of mining for metals, with 1300 abandoned mines dating back to before the Bronze Age. The industry reached a peak in the 19th century and by the 1920s most mining had ceased. But discharges of water from underground workings and leaching or erosion of metals from spoil heaps are still significant sources of water pollution.

Over 500 tonnes of metals like zinc, lead, cadmium and iron enter Welsh rivers from abandoned mines every year; causing 6% of them, nearly 700km, to fail to achieve good chemical or ecological status. The pollution harms the river ecology; reducing fish populations and the diversity of invertebrate life.

With funding from Welsh Government, Natural Resources Wales is working with the Coal Authority to tackle this pollution, making our rivers cleaner and healthier to benefit people, wildlife and the economy.

Explore more about the metal mines programme along with updates about individual projects.

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