Wales’ industrial past and how it informs its vision for the future will be discussed in the 14th International Mine Water Association (IMWA) Congress, to be held from 12 to 16 July.

The event is a collaborative partnership between Natural Resources Wales, Welsh Government, The Coal Authority and Cardiff University.

This year, for the first time in its history, the congress will be a virtual event but it retains the global profile of previous events with delegates from China, Korea, Kenya, Ghana, South Africa, Europe, Russia, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Peru, Canada and USA already registered.

IMWA is an interdisciplinary organisation focussed on various aspects of mine water, including hydrology, chemistry, biology, environmental impacts and potential reuse as well as how best to control it through better prediction, management and treatment.

The conference is an opportunity for IMWA members and guests to share ideas on tackling the ongoing effects of former industrial sites.

Event organiser Peter Stanley, NRW’s Senior Specialist Advisor for Abandoned Mines, said:

“Our minerals sector once supplied coal, slate and metals globally. While there remains limited exploitation of reserves, we retain numerous collieries, opencast mines and quarries plus over 1300 abandoned metal mines that alone impact over 700 km of river reaches.

“The Well-being of Future Generations act ensures all public bodies here, must work together to improve our environment and deliver multiple benefits to protect it in the long term.

“For a small country, we like to aim high and punch above our weight and the congress allows us to share our ambitions with the world.”

The event gets underway with a series of short courses to be held on the weekend of July 10-11 before the main congress begins:

Dr Mike Müller of Hydro computing GmbH & Co based in Germany will be providing a 1.5 day short course on Modelling Hydrodynamics and Water Quality of Pit Lakes, featuring Dr Martin Boland from Piteau Associates on a Practical guide to open pit and underground mine water management; Dr Patrick Byrne of Liverpool John Moores University will explain Source apportionment of mine pollution in watersheds:  and Dr Denys Villa Gomez from the University of Queensland will explain about Biotechnologies for the treatment of mining and metallurgical wastewater on the context of metal recovery.

The conference will share experience from around the globe, helping countries develop technology, innovation, practice and policy to help a sustainable use and remediation of our natural resources. Whilst elsewhere in the world the extraction of minerals and associated infrastructure like tailings dams has caused terrible impacts on communities and the environment, Wales the legacy of abandoned mines and metal mind discharges can impacts the nation’s rivers such as those from Parys Mountain. Wales’coal mine tips have also shown that stability and run-off can have significant impacts on surrounding communities during periods of high intensity rainfall.

Natural Resources Wales