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LIFE TECMINE - Innovative techniques for Facies Weald and Utrillas mine restoration

LIFE16 ENV/ES/000159


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Project description:

Background

Mining is an important economic activity in Europe, supplying raw materials to strategic development sectors such as construction, infrastructure and ceramics and tiles. But this activity has a serious social and environmental impact: extracting minerals affects soil quality, biodiversity, water resources and the landscape.

Regional, national and European legislation regulates liability for the restoration of mine-affected areas. The EU has introduced several directives that ensure that mining activities do not pose a risk to the environment, human health or safety – namely, Directive 2004/35/EC that focuses on the prevention and remedying of environmental damage, which has been extended to cover extractive waste from mines and quarries, as well as Directive 2006/21/EC on the management of waste from extractive industries.

In the Valencia region, 85% of the mines are found in forests. The restoration activities implemented so far have shown that traditional techniques are not sufficiently effective. Severe erosion problems and subsequent sedimentation in riverbeds, negative landscape impact and low forestry biodiversity after the implementation of mine restoration projects emphasises the need for new approaches. The situation is especially serious in Mediterranean areas due to marked seasonal weather changes. Moreover, there is a need for technical tools to support public administrations and professionals to better select efficient techniques and thus develop sustainable solutions for mine-affected areas.


Objectives

The general objective of the LIFE TECMINE project is to improve mine restoration activities in Mediterranean forest areas by testing innovative and highly transferable restoration techniques. The project will focus on the restoration of an area formed in the Early Cretaceous period that occupies more than 35% of the Valencia region; similar areas are widespread across Europe. Specifically, during the project three mining concessions (Fortuna, no. 1845; Silex, no. 1782; and Capricho, no. 1667) located in Ademuz will be restored. These three mines are currently exempt for restoration according to the existing legislation.

The techniques to be tested by the project address the following environmental issues:

  • Lack of landscape integration. A technique traditionally used for landscape integration of rock slopes in roads and highways (the talus royal technique) will be used to restore the upper area of the mine (5.7 ha);
  • Hydrological problems. In order to reduce erosion and improve water quality when runoff from the mine flows into natural rivers, the GEOFLUV method, a technique for geomorphological restoration will be used to restore the platform area (4.5 ha) and the pond area (1.9 ha);
  • Low biodiversity and vegetation cover. The project will seek new solutions by means of a new design of micro-catchments and additional treatments with organic matter; and
  • Lack of sufficient knowledge about the requirements of the implementation of these techniques. In order to better understand techniques and with the aim of defining the limits of their applicability and the thresholds of success, a thorough monitoring will be carried out from the start of the project.

    Expected results:

  • 13.6 hectares of forest ecosystem restored to enhance biodiversity (vegetation and wildlife) by encompassing eight habitat types (three priority habitats: 9530, 9560 and 6220), that in turn foster the colonisation of wildlife, and 10 000 plants of 34 different species. (Conventional projects usually attempt to restore one or two habitats with few resistant species (mainly pine trees and associated shrubs) since mine-affected areas are not considered areas for greater ambition);
  • Alien species eliminated along the river, with the density of Arundo donax at 10 individuals/m2 in 1 km intermittently;
  • Two ponds where wildlife is expected to colonise. Observed species in closed lagoons are the badger, ibex goat, roe deer, wild boar and fox, dragonflies (Lestessponsa, Gomphuspulchellus), water snake and lizards. It is expected that these species will use the new ponds for different reasons (water or habitat);
  • A new soil created by mixing the three types of material available in the area and adding organic matter (at least 30 cm deep);
  • Erosion rates reduced by up to 50% compared with traditional restoration techniques and consequently the reduction of sedimentation in the river (RioDeva);
  • Increased water infiltration and aquifer recharge, bringing about a great change to the current scenario of no vegetation (baseline information will be measured at the beginning of the project);
  • Increased carbon sequestration from plants and soil of 540 Mg (40 Mg/ha*13.5 ha);
  • Reduced water consumption for irrigation. Conventional projects apply 5l/plant at least four times/year during the first two years, which adds a total of 400 m3. Here, it will be applied only for the first irrigation if needed, reducing water consumption by more than 83%;
  • Two guidelines based on project results and the technical training of up to 15 people to guarantee that techniques are properly implemented where feasible and sustainable; and
  • 12 participatory activities, with at least four local associations involved and the raised awareness of 2 600 people.


Results


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Environmental issues addressed:

Themes

Industry-Production - Mining - Quarrying
Risk management - Site rehabilitation - Decontamination


Keywords

quarry‚  site rehabilitation‚  mine


Target EU Legislation

  • Nature protection and Biodiversity
  • Directive 92/43 - Conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora- Habitats Directiv ...
  • Environmental management & assessment
  • Directive 2004/35 - Environmental liability with regard to the prevention and remedying of enviro ...
  • Waste
  • Directive 2006/21 - Management of waste from extractive industries and amending Directive 2004/35 ...

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable


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Beneficiaries:

Coordinator Generalitat Valenciana. Conselleria de Agricultura, Medio Ambiente, Cambio Climtico y Desarrollo Rural
Type of organisation Regional authority
Description The Generalitat Valenciana – Conselleria de Agricultura, Medio Ambiente, Cambio Climático y Desarrollo Rural (GVA) is the environment authority of the Valencia region.

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Project reference LIFE16 ENV/ES/000159
Duration 01-NOV-2017 to 01-NOV -2021
Total budget 1,589,256.00 €
EU contribution 942,456.00 €
Project location Comunidad Valenciana(España)

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