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Metal mines being left to pollute in Wales

Welsh Conservatives have questioned Natural Resources Wales after it emerged only one major remediation scheme has been completed on metal mines across Wales.

In 2002, the Metal Mine Strategy for Wales, identified 50 abandoned metal mines causing the greatest impact on rivers in Wales. Since then, only one major remediation scheme has been completed, and smaller scale remedial works and pilot treatment trials at two other mines.

The mines can cause elevated levels of metals in rivers – primarily zinc, lead and cadmium – and can have a detrimental impact on the ecology of our river systems and reduce fish populations. A total of 31 out of the 50 mine sites fell within groupings where there was potential to achieve a consensus of opinion on the best environmental course of action.


Abandoned mines are one of the main causes of water pollution in Wales and commenting on the issue, Welsh Conservative Shadow Climate Change minister, Janet Finch Saunders MS said:

“It’s nearly 20 years since the Welsh Labour Government identified these troublesome mines and the devastating impact they on Welsh rivers, yet very little remedial action has been undertaken. “If ministers are serious about their climate change obligations, then we need to see far more action from the regulatory body, Natural Resources Wales, in tackling serious issues such as metal mines. “Earlier last week, we had a grave warning about the environmental challenges in front of us. It’s now time Labour ministers led from the front and ensured NRW does its job properly and effectively and protects Wales’ environment.”

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Editors’ notes:

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