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Is enough being done to resolve metal mine pollution in Wales? MPs quiz academics and regulators

7 May 2024

The Welsh Affairs Committee hears evidence on the extent of metal mine pollution in Wales and the possible impacts, including potential health risks, posed by abandoned metal mines.

Once a major industry in Wales, mines extracting metals like lead, zinc and gold are now largely abandoned. But metals from these mines can discharge into local rivers, streams and lakes, damaging local plant and animal biodiversity, and possibly posing a health risk to humans.

Wales is not the only region with a history of metal mining, but Natural Resources Wales estimated in 2016 that nine of the ten worst metal mine polluted catchments were in Wales.

In the first panel, experts in metal pollution from the universities of Lincoln and Nottingham will give evidence on the potential risks of this form of pollution. MPs may ask whether enough attention is being paid to this issue, and why no further progress has been made in cleaning up and limiting pollution from abandoned mines.

In the second panel, MPs will hear from Natural Resources Wales (NRW) who are responsible for water quality and the pollution from abandoned metal mines, and also from the Coal Authority, who are supporting NRW to provide advice and support on managing the impacts of metal mine pollution.

Members may ask regulators what action they are taking to remediate the 129 ‘red’ sites likely to be contributing significantly to water pollution, and whether enough is being done to combat the impact of metal mine pollution, including potential risks to public health.


Wednesday 8 May, 9.30am, Committee Room 15, Palace of Westminster

Panel one, from 09.30:

  • Professor Mark Macklin, Professor of River Systems and Global Change, University of Lincoln
  • Dr Andrea Sartorius, Research Fellow, School of Veterinary Medicine and Science University of Nottingham

Panel two, from 10.15:

  • Dave Johnston, Senior Specialist Advisor, Abandoned Metal Mines, and Christian Wilcox, Head of Strategic Projects, Natural Resources Wales
  • Carl Banton, Operations and Sustainability Director, and Nick Cox, Head of Metal Mines Programme, Coal Authority

Further information

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