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Mine Exploration Forum

Author Cwm Rheidol Mine
Vanoord

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Joined: 28/11/2005
Location: North Wales

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Cwm Rheidol Mine
Posted: 19/05/2009 16:06:48
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Another report from the Beeb, about the treatment of mine water - [web link]

AditNow database entry: [web link]

Pic by Wyn of no.9 adit showing perceived problem with water quality!



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A filter made from compost, woodchip and whelk shells is to be used to stop polluted water from an old zinc works from entering a mid Wales river.

Water from Cwm Rheidol Mine near Aberystwyth is currently flowing into the nearby River Rheidol.

But scientists at Newcastle University have developed a filter, which will form part of a pilot project.

Some of the most polluted metal mine sites in Wales are in Ceredigion, according to the Environment Agency.

But the agency said if the university's new filter system worked it could solve problems at other mines around the world.

A pilot treatment plant is to be built near Cwm Rheidol Mine to see if it works.There has been mining in Cwm Rheidol since the Bronze Age, but it ended just before World War I.

A filter system was developed in latter years, but the Environment Agency said it did not work and polluted water from Cwm Rheidol Mine was still ending up in the River Rheidol.

Paul Edwards of Environment Agency Wales said: "The water purification project started in 2006 when we had funding from the Welsh Assembly Government.

"Newcastle University has been working on a way of purifying the water and has come up with a mixture of compost, woodchips, digested sludge and whelk shells, which reduce acidity in the water.

"In the meantime, we have been working on ways of stopping water getting into the mine.

"We plan to put the university's mixture in a tank and pass the water from the mine through it to see if it works.

"If it does it could have implications for disused mines throughout the world. We plan to build a pilot treatment plant during this financial year."

The River Rheidol has a relatively high concentration of zinc, which puts it in danger of not reaching a "good ecological status" target by 2015.

Mr Edwards said the zinc concentration levels in the Rheidol were not dangerous and fish and other wildlife seemed unaffected.

About £230,000 has been spent on the project in Ceredigion so far, with funding coming from the Welsh Assembly Government and the European Union's Objective 1 scheme.


Quite a colour...



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Filling space until a new signature comes along...
IP: 81.130.123.230 Edited: 19/05/2009 16:08:56 by Vanoord
rufenig

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Cwm Rheidol Mine
Posted: 19/05/2009 18:04:36
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The first remedial work was done by Simon Hughes & John Mason to open the blocked adit & prevent a pressure blowout.
The most obvious problems are the Iron polutants which colour the water not the other metal content.
From whai I have heard the local councill failed to provide the money for the upkeep of the original scheme.
Do we think the new plan will fare any better long term?
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royfellows

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Joined: 13/06/2007
Location: Great Wyrley near Walsall

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Cwm Rheidol Mine
Posted: 19/05/2009 20:14:51
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No disrespect Mr Rufenig but this matter came up at the Ceredigion Mines Forum which I attend and where a representative of the Environment Agency gave a presentation on the work done. I have visited the site and think it looks a good solution. Basically, the water from the upper adit, Alderson’s Level is being conducted down to the filter beds by pipes that prevent it from running through the spoil thereby leaching out base minerals by virtue of its low PH/High acidity.
The lower No 9 level appears OK, water going where it should.
The ochre is hydrous iron oxide and makes a right mess but is not all that harmful. However, if water with a low PH is allowed to percolate through the spoil tips it can leach out base minerals which can contain trace elements of cadmium.


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'There's a lot of activity for a disused mine!' - Bond in 'A view to a kill'
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Wyn

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Cwm Rheidol Mine
Posted: 20/05/2009 09:16:39
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Roy's right about the spoil tips. Quite often the main problem with an old mine is the diffuse pollution from extensive tips rather than a point discharge. Cwm Rheidol is a classic case, as are dylife and dyfngwm (zinc loadings). An electro fishing exercise on the Afon Clywedog (Dyfngwm) showed an impact. IP: 86.137.19.49
derrickman

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Cwm Rheidol Mine
Posted: 20/05/2009 11:55:54
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look at the general condition of United Downs!

and the Red River, which was exactly that in the 70s
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carnkie

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Cwm Rheidol Mine
Posted: 20/05/2009 13:36:32
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They had the same problem in Colorado from the gold mine tailings in the mid 20th century, only different coloured rivers.



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I assume, like the Red, they are now clear.

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IP: 79.74.134.196 Edited: 20/05/2009 14:04:04 by carnkie
Rheidol38

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Cwm Rheidol Mine
Posted: 24/06/2009 20:16:00
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Thought I'd clarify a few points raised:-

1. the previous scheme (undertaken by S Hughes / J Mason) was funded by the then NRA. The works undertaken were to clear the blockages within the adits ensuring the water flowed out of the complex and towards the filter beds at the foot of mine. Other than to stop water flowing onto the tips, no diversion work was carried out. The agreement at the time was that this was a very temporary stop gap but no other funding existed at that time. The outcome was that adit 9 still blocked from time to time (as the photos show) and a significant ravine was created to the west of the mine where the water flowed out from adit 6
2. the works undertaken recently have been to pipe the waters from BOTH adits 6 and 9 in two seperate pipes, both converging by adit 9 and flowing down to the road where they are valved off ready for the next stage which is i understand to commence shortly. It was been carried out by the Environment Agency with funding assistance by amongst others the European Union.
3. the next stage is to create a temporary filter for the works as an experiment to determine if there is a better solution than the current limestone (hence the BBC article)
4. the filter bed still actually works although not quite in the manner it was intended. The reason for the pipes was that the Environment Agency determined that there was less water entering the filter bed than leaving the mines (due to seepage). Funilly enough there was never the less more water leaving the filter bed than entering it.
5. Before the pipes went in considerable work was undertaken to divert streams above the mine on the Ystum Teun plateau to ensure the least amount of water entered the mine - the Cwm Rheidol mine is linked to all three mines at Ystum Teun and potentially Temple mine further up the Rheidol valley.

Hope this helps

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Graigfawr

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Cwm Rheidol Mine
Posted: 05/11/2009 00:06:04
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Can provide a bit of older background.

As well as the highly visible iron pollution, there are considerable inputs of zinc and acidity, plus lesser amounts of lead and cadmium (the last being unusually high for this part of the world). The site is one of the three largest polluting mines in the county.

The filter beds inside the chain link fenced compound between the road and the river were installed when the hydro-electric power station was built a couple of miles down the valley (around 1960? I don't have the date to hand). The rartionale being that because the power station abstracted naturally acidic upland water from the headwaters of the river (from the Nant y Moch Reservoir) and returned it to the river in a locatio where the river water was less acidic, some attempts at offsetting this input of acid water had to be made. As the mine site was imputting a grest deal of acidity just upstream of the power station, it was an obvious candidate for an alleviation scheme. Apparently the filter beds worked tolerably well until the late 1960s when the then occupier of the mine site attempted to reopen Level 9 (the one in the photos earlier on this thread), apparently to either extract ochre or to commence prospecting work (I'm hazy on this aspect). Disturbance of the natural ochre dam in the Level resulted in a 'blow-out' of a large volume of polluted water that overwhelmed the filter beds with ochre. A movement of ochre and/or deads inside the workings very promtly cut off the flow but the damage was done. No official body (at that time, presumably the Central Electricity Generating Board, the Welsh National Water Development Authority, and Cardiganshire County Council) was eager to rejuvenate the filter beds, so they remained untouched for many years (until about 2000, I believe).

In the mid 1980s, to stop the outflows from Level 6 (the adit at the head of the tips) and Level 9 (only Levels 6 and 9 came to surface) from percolating through the tips and leaching out pollutants, their flows were piped down the western edge of the tips to flow into the filter beds. Also in the mid 1980s, there were some works to limit streams and surface water sinking into the back of the lode in the vicinity of Ystumtuen village, located beyond the top of the hillside. The pipes from Levels 6 and 9, I believe, became choked with rocks and ochre and in the early/mid 1990s the project described earlier on this thread by Rheidol38 was carried out to replace the pipes and to carry out works to the entranxce to Level 9.

I recall being told that the pH of the water in Level 9 is around 3 - i.e. similar to battery acid. The level is stated to have oxygen deficiency to a markedly dangerous degree. Plans assocaited with the late 1960s attmept at reopening show it blocked at the lode. This blockage holds back around 150 feet head of ochre and water - most of the outflow of the mine is from Level 6, around 150 feet higher up the hillside.

Although the Cwmrheidol Levels have a hydrological connection with the Ystumtuen, Penrhiw, Bwlchgwyn and Llwynteifi Mines, Temple Mine appears to drain entirely independently.
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Sam@Leeds

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Cwm Rheidol Mine
Posted: 28/05/2010 11:10:27
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Hi,

I am currently doing my MSc in Geochemistry at the University of Leeds, and for my project I am looking at the mineralogy of the ochres at the Cwm Rheidol mine.

A few weeks ago I visited the site for my field work and found what looked to be an old settling pond at the top of the site, just in front of adit 6. It was only distinguishable by a wall that faced down the valley and a drainage pipe at the base in the centre. It turned out that the walled off area was filled with old ochre, about 40 cm deep. I was just wondering whether anyone had any idea what this was used for and potentially between which years this had been operational.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks
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Graigfawr

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Cwm Rheidol Mine
Posted: 28/05/2010 21:39:43
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Its a remnant of one of the pollution alleviation schemes: are you describing a concrete lined tank or an earth mounded pond? If you can post any photos it would be helpful to clarify the date and precise function of what you describe. IP: 92.26.70.185
Sam@Leeds

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Cwm Rheidol Mine
Posted: 07/06/2010 11:33:28
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Yes it was concrete lined and full of ochre.



Thanks
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Graigfawr

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Cwm Rheidol Mine
Posted: 07/06/2010 21:55:12
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Thanks for clarifying the details of tank at Level 6.

This tank was dilapidated when I first visited Cwmrheidol in 1983. I believe that it pertains to the last working of the mine in the inter-war years. It appears to be a somewhat half-hearted attempt to settle some of the solids from the effluent from Level 6 (and hence diminish the impact of the effluent on the River Rheidol from the effluent) rather than being connected to a commerical attempt to extract ochre.

The degree of tree growth in your photograph presents a marked contrast to mine of 17 years ago when there only one small stunted sapling in the tank, and even more so to my first visits in the early and mid 1980-s when nothing grew in the tank - and precious little grew on the down-slope tips (which are now well-covered with birch).
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