Registered Charity Number: 1037414

Minewater as supply

May 25th, 2017 in News by admin


Clean Rivers Trust has looked at the issues of minewater from both active and abandoned mines since the 1990s and has worked with many of the UK water companies. The Trust has identified water resources from abandoned mines in other countries including Cyprus as well as across Europe also East and North Africa.

Historically there are a number of records of potable supply being sourced from collieries across most coal mining areas of Great Britain, with some knowledge of water quality. There are several abandoned metal mine drainage systems or soughs being used to supply potable water with Severn Trent Water today using mine drainage from the Derbyshire lead mines as a major resource.

The Trust has carried out evaluation exercises both with Nottingham University and Anglian Water to evaluate and test membrane technologies at Annesley Bentinck Colliery to bring up the high chloride waters pumped from the pump lodge and then discharged to the River Trent, to potable standards. It was found to be relatively easy but at the time expensive. Nearly 20 years on and those costs have decreased, reverse osmosis is now a better and more widely used technology and the water price to households and industry have increased allowing even such difficult waters to be viable sources of supply.

Clean Rivers Trust has carried out evaluations and supply projects at several mine across the UK for manufacturing companies including major Pharmaceuticals such as Glaxo SmithKline, chemical, Albright and Wilson, Huntsman and Rhodia to put in place schemes that used minewater from mines for both product and process water supply.



Industry often finds that they need specialist waters that are excessively expensive if initially the water comes directly from the regional utility company and then has to excessively altered at further expense, these companies often will look to wells that they operate (abstraction costs being much lower) and treating the water in-house to the standards that might be required. Such companies as Kodak at their facilities at Harrow North London used water from their major well system put in place at the start of the 20th Century demonstrated this well. The site has now been abandoned and redeveloped at the start of the 21st Century.

The water companies are finding there is a shortfall in water resources across England and Wales, even in Cumbria. The Environment Agency in England are further limiting traditionally available water due to environmental issues such as threats to wildlife from abstractions from lakes and rivers.

The daily millions of cubic metres of water that are now run to waste after treatment by the Coal Authority, the even greater volumes of water available beneath the surface filling the over 12,000,000,000 cubic metres of workings are hugely interesting. There is still much to be done to work out the most viable methods of extraction or the most viable uses for the water but there are many that will be of value to a great number.

HMG have further strengthened the need for more diverse water resources, the opening up of the industrial water market has seen new water companies formed who have no regional water resources as those that have existed in the past. These are the pirates of the industry who will take chances with new resources from new sources. They are embracing new technologies that produce supply routes into the market.



Clean Rivers Trust has over the last 25 years championed the use of minewater as a route for competition in the water market. Such an activity allows for potential pollution sources being cleaned up economically.
Forest of Dean.

In this area of Outstanding Natural Beauty minewater pollutes the River Lydd that flows into the tidal Severn. Also water from old iron mines is used for both process and product water. The Trust was engaged to research and design methodologies to treat the supply pumped to the factory. The enterprise is now the largest employer in the area when previously it would have closed due to the cost of water.


Redruth and other Cornish Mines.

The Trust researched several minewater for use in beer brewing in the county and there are several branded mineral water that also use these resources today. These are reasonably benign waters unlike some within the county.


West Cumbria Anhydrite.

The Trust identified several mines of both coal and anhydrite around Whitehaven. The anhydrite mine proved the easiest horizon to exploit with, after research with the Environment Agency the water was abstracted to supply the factory’s power plant and acid manufactory.



The Trust again identified water that was suitable for use at several industrial premises to the west of Edinburgh that only failed due to the intransigence of the Scottish Parliament who were protecting the income generation of the sites for the national water company.


Author: admin

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