, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 70-75

The influence of acidic mine and spoil drainage on water quality in the mid-Wales area

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The many abandoned base metal mines of the mid-Wales ore field are sources of extensive pollution. Some of the mineralised veins contain large amounts of pyrite and marcasite and oxidative weathering of these produces sulphuric acid resulting in very acidic mine drainage waters. In addition, the spoil tips associated with these mines can contain abundant iron sulphides. Drainage waters from these sources have pH values as low as 2.6 and are heavily contaminated with metals such as Al, Zn, Cd and Ni.

Two of the main rivers of the area, the Rheidol and Ystwyth, intercept heavily contaminated acidic drainage which has a marked effect on water quality. The Rheidol contains over 100 μg L−1 Zn for 16 km downstream of the acid water influx. This level is over three times the recommended EEC limit for Zn in salmonoid waters of low hardness.