Metal mine sites present significant sources of water pollution, contaminating the valuable fishing rivers of Wales with toxic metals. Natural Resources Wales (NRW) commissioned WSP to undertake initial site assessments of 13 historical metal mines in Mid Wales, to identify pollution sources and pathways impacting watercourses and inform potential remediation works.
Wales has more than 1,300 abandoned metal mines, affecting more than 700 km of watercourses. Understanding the full scope of the impact using traditional surveying methods could be a lifetime of work. The NRW team needed an efficient and effective means of identifying the priority sites to mitigate pollution impacts as soon as possible.
To assist with this, the WSP Digital Advisory team was engaged by the technical specialists in Mining to deploy its Asset Management Collector tool, backed by the in-house WSP Data Warehouse. They used this to consolidate on-site data, including via an interactive app that could be used on mobile devices in the field. By connecting to various additional sources in the data warehouse, the on-site team were able to append mapping, GPS data and image capture to their data points and quickly build a robust picture that would help them validate and assess each site feature. Off-site, the wider team at NRW were able to review data as it was collected and add their own photos and information to each collection site via a web maps interface.
A standardised report was generated from the consolidated data. This then provided the needed geo-environmental detail to complement a published Failing Waterbodies Assessment (FWA) by the Coal Authority (CA). Because they had the robust set of data to support the FWA, the CA were able to update the Red, Amber or Green (RAG) classifications of those 13 mine sites within their methodology, and quickly prioritise the sites most significantly contributing to water body pollution. In addition, mining features mapped as part of this study were directly available in digital format and have been used to update the NRW GIS database, contributing to a digital legacy of assets to inform future projects.