Is our water at risk from the effects of mining?

A002 MARCH 2020

During the excavaton of the mine, the voids will constanty drain water from the surrounding rock and will need to be continuously pumped out.
If we look at the nearby example of Cavanacaw gold mine, where they are currently developing their underground mine, it is envisaged that upto 1290m³ (1.29 million litres) of water will be pumped out daily- now remember that the proposed Curraghinalt project is 3 times deeper than Cavanacaw- so what dewatering capacity will be necessary here? Their proposed mine is 900m deep, and extends 440m beneath sea level.
Certainly this mine water can be treated and reused for the mine, but this water table resource is also a very important aspect in the natural hydrogeological cycle- which influences just about everything we know in the local environment.

This will have a detrimental affect on the water table locally, and there will be a drop as a ‘cone of depression’ forms around the mine site.
Potentially Wells and springs loose volume or stop, nearby rivers will loose volume, and the water pumped out of the mine will contain naturally occuring contaminants such as Lead, Zinc, Manganese and Arsenic.

Is is common knowledge that mining exacerbates the release of these naturally occuring elements into the local environment- and they will naturally flow into the aquifers and fractures within the rock to contaminate a wider area. The natural country rock in the Sperrins region has a very high concentration of naurally ocurring lead. Bear in mind that none of the local water treatment facilities have provision to remove lead or heavy metals from the domestic water supply, and you will quickly realise that there could be a potential problem here.

  • Lead is a cumulative toxicant that affects multiple body systems and is particularly harmful to young children.
  • Lead in the body is distributed to the brain, liver, kidney and bones. It is stored in the teeth and bones, where it accumulates over time. Human exposure is usually assessed through the measurement of lead in blood.
  • Lead in bone is released into blood during pregnancy and becomes a source of exposure to the developing fetus.
  • There is no level of exposure to lead that is known to be without harmful effects.
  • Lead exposure is preventable.

The water system around the proposed mine site is not a ‘stand alone’ system, but linked to the entire Foyle system via the Owenkillew, Owenreagh, Glenelly, Mourne, and Foyle. This will not just be a potential local problem, but a problem for everyone along the system.

The cone of depression- a common feature with underground mines
Cone of depression at Cavanacaw, Omagh