• The University of Oviedo and Hunosa take part in a project aimed at reducing environmental risks generated by the closure of coal mines

    March 09, 2016

    Ten partners from 6 European countries collaborate in the design of strategies to identify environmental risks on the short and the long term and join forces to take technical and economic measures to reduce the impact.

    Pozo Pumarabule

    Reducing the environmental risks generated by the closure of coal mines is the objective of the MERIDA Project, in which the University of Oviedo and Hunosa participate along with other 8 partners from 6 different European countries. MERIDA, acronym for Management of Environmental Risks During and After mine closure aims to minimize the impact during and after subterranean mine closure, according to the general law by which the proprietary companies must be responsible for the risks.

    In line with this purpose, researchers of the University of Oviedo and technicians of Hunosa collaborate in the development of a methodology that will end up in the creation of a generic tool able to identify the risks in the short and long term and define the appropriate technical and economic measures to be taken in order to reduce the impact, regardless of the mine location. Participants in this European project will also provide the companies and managers with a best practices guidebook to evaluate in a systemic way, both quantitatively and qualitatively, the main environmental risks resulting from the closure of mines, and subsequent stages. It gathers contents perfectly linked with the "post-mine" line of activities that the company Hunosa is undertaking.

    The Asturian academic institution will check the possibilities of atmospheric, water or land movement pollution in Mosquitera and Pumarabule.

    The group of the Asturian academic institution and Hunosa will evaluate the potential risks in tow mines already closed: Mosquitera and Pumarabule, in the councils of Langreo y Siero. Scientists will study, in the case of these two mines and with the data provided by the company, aspects like atmospheric or water and subsidence (vertical and horizontal movements of land). The relevance of this initiative relies on the fact that, for the first time, and with the joint collaboration of different European countries, experts will deal with possible consequences resulting from the closure of mines from a global perspective.

    The participation of the University of Oviedo and Hunosa is focused on the aspects concerning environmental risks. The Asturian institution actually leads the tasks to define the criteria for each risk factor. Likewise, the University of Oviedo is engaged in the development and validation of several detailed evaluation methods for every type of impact and their subsequent implementation in the study cases proposed. Finally, Oviedo leads the tasks concerning prediction of the performance of the posible treatment methods, cost-benefit analyses and estimation of the probability of failures or uncertainties along the process.

    Ten partners from 6 European countries collaborate in the development of the MERIDA Project. The partners are Central Mining Institute of Katowice (Poland), DMT GmbH & Co. KG Exploration & Geosurvey (Germany), Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine (United Kingdom), French National Institute for Industrial Environment and Risks-Ineris (France), IMG-Polish Academy of Sciences-PAN (Poland), The University of Exeter (United Kingdom), Vysoka Skola Banska-Technicka Univerzita Ostrava (Czech Republic), Kompania Weglowa SA (Poland), Hulleras del Norte, S.A. (Hunosa) and University of Oviedo (Spain).

    The participation of Asturias is supported by the participation of Professor Ana Suárez Sánchez, of the area of Business Management, as principal researcher. Other members of this group are researchers of the group in Applied Mathematical Modeling in Engineering, Economy and Health Sciences (MOMA), led by Francisco Javier de Cos Juez. Finally, leading the Hydrogeophysics and Non Destructive Testing Modeling Unit of the Campus of Mieres, Professor José Paulino Fernández Álvarez also collaborates in the group.

    The Project, which lasts 4 years, has been funded with 3,7 million euros; 2,2 provided directly by the European Union. The University of Oviedo will receive a total of 253.000 euros. Hunosa, for its part, expects an allocation of 139.149 euros. MERIDA, started it development on December 15 last year, will be in force until the end of 2019.

    Front page picture: Pozo Pumarabule / P. Riesgo