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3.1.3 Mining


Mining has been undertaken in Europe for many hundreds of years. Today many mines have been closed but both recent and abandoned mines still affect the quantitative, chemical and ecological quality of water. This section covers both mining and extraction (gravel, peat) activities.  Main pressures and impacts include acidification caused by lowering pH and discharge of heavy metals, other chemical pollution or pollution resulting by saltwater intrusion, alteration in flow, or lowering water table caused by an excessive dewatering during mine operation or after mining activities have stopped. Recovery of affected aquatic ecosystems – including groundwater - may take decades.

In the 2nd RBMP, 17 WFD countries reported mining as significant point and/or diffuse source pressure, affecting ca. 1 100 surface water bodies (less than 1 % out of all surface water bodies), and 7.5 % of the whole groundwater area. Countries with high shares of reported pressures from mining included the UK, Norway, Germany, Hungary, Bulgaria, Spain, and Italy.

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