The European Commission approved the Life Etad Project (Ecological Treatment of Acid Drainage) LIFE12 ENV/ES/000250, whose goal is the development and implementation of a new method of water purification derived from mines. In this project, which counts on a 2.650.738 million Euros budget and an completion time till December 2017, participate the Consejería de Medio Ambiente y Ordenación del Territorio through Agencia de Medio Ambiente y Agua,  Sacyr Construcción and the University of Huelva.

The project aims at the Conception and optimisation of the passive treatment process of acid mine drainage in a standard location in the Iberian Pyrite Belt, as well as the construction and activation of a passive treatment technology station, which will thus be a contribute to achieve the goals of the National Hydrological Plan of the Tinto, Odiel and Piedras rivers, and likewise purified waters are to be achieved to serve as an irrigation resource for vineyards and citrus production, a feasible alternative in the affected areas.  

“We will contribute to achive the goals of the National Hydrological Plan of the Tinto, Odiel and Piedras rivers”

The work already developed by the Consejería de Medio Ambiente y Ordenación del Territorio consists of studying the potential locations and selecting installation implementation as well as drafting the layout, defining operations and a draft of the process. An innovation has been the station’s basic equipment designed to run by means of gravity, which avoids electricity consumption.

The results previewed state the capacity of full scale passive technologies as feasible treatment of acid mine drainage, the improvement of the water quality in the area and the resource to technologies that would solve a serious environmental problem that affects water degraded by the mine activity, both in Andalucía and in other locations in Europe, since the Life Etad project aims at presenting itself as a reference pilot project for other areas affected by similar problems in the European continent.

The intense miner activity performed in the Iberian Pyrite Belt resulted in abandoned mines and mining waste in slag heaps, sludge deposits, open air pits, etc. These degraded areas are the main contamination source of both surface and ground waters in the Odiel basin, due to the acid drainage they generate. The acid mine drainage consist of water that undergoes an alteration of its PH to acid levels. The research for new treatment methods for this acid water is crucial to improve the quality and progressive recovery of the Odiel river stream network.

This project arises then as the follow up of the intense research that has been conducted these last years, aiming at a possible solution by means of passive treatment of the acidic discharges. Treatments such as Anoxic Limestone Drains (ALD), the Alkalinity Producing Systems or the Sulphate Reducing Bioreactor, once implemented, would require a relatively low upkeep cost. Of the entire budget of approximately 2.650.738 Euros, 49,99 % come from community funds as the rest is sponsored by the LIFE ETAD  partners.



Project goal

Implement an optimized design of a passive treatment system for acid mine drainage process, in a kind of IPF mining location.

Demonstrate by building and launching a full-scale plant of passive treatment technology...(+) 

Project progress

 First works of the experimental treatment plant LIFE ETAD have already executed; they have consisted in transplanting of the protected species plants (Erica andevalensis) present in the plot and that could be affected by the execution of the works.


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