Assignment of the Facilities of the Former Espinho Mines
On 7 October 2016, beginning at eleven o’clock at Mangualde Town Hall, a public meeting was held to discuss the assignment to the local community of areas around the former, recently recovered mines.
In the municipality of Mangualde, the mines of Cunha Baixa and Espinho were decommissioned, respectively, in 1991 and 1990 after the exploration of uranium. The environmental liability resulting from that operation has since been the subject of major rehabilitation work overseen by EDM – Empresa de Desenvolvimento Mineiro, SA under the “Concession Contract for the recovery of abandoned mines”, signed between the State and Empresa de Desenvolvimento Mineiro, SA (EDM).
On Friday, 7 October 2016, the Secretary of State for Energy, Jorge Seguro Sanches, travelled to the municipality of Mangualde to preside over an act of deep social and political significance, consisting of the transfer of the recovered mining areas by Mangualde City Council to local associations, which will be responsible for the use and management of those spaces for the local population.
With regard to the reclaimed area of the former Cunha Baixa mine, a protocol was signed transferring to the Agricultural Cooperative of Mangualde Farmers (COAPE) a farm irrigation system, built by EDM, which includes a reservoir that receives rainwater, allowing around ten hectares of agricultural land to be irrigated relating to 19 beneficiary parcels.
A protocol was also concluded handing over to the municipality of Mangualde, and to the Civil Parish of Cunha Baixa, a Visitor Centre building and adjacent Picnic Area, built on the site by EDM. This Visitor Centre will house a permanent exhibition on the history of mining in the municipality of Mangualde and on environmental recovery measures, and should also serve for occasional thematic exhibitions and other cultural activities that the municipality and the parish organize there, thus constituting a dynamic tourist and cultural centre.
In the reclaimed area ofthe former Espinho mine, a protocol was signed involving the municipality of Mangualde, the Civil Parish of Espinho and the Protection and Rescue Operations Brigade (K9V – GIOPS) association. Through this protocol, this former mining area will be used for training and dissemination of activities in the field of civil defence.
Mangualde City Council is the entity that serves as a link with all local organizations and pro-actively seeks solutions to take social advantage of the spaces recovered from the former mines. Thus, a Partnership Agreement was also signed between the municipality of Mangualde and EDM, SA establishing the terms of current and future cooperation, precisely with a view to achieving the common goal of putting the investments made in environmental rehabilitation of the former mining areas at the service of the population.
The municipality of Mangualde once played host to significant uranium mining activities, which have now ended. The Cunha Baixa mine was active between 1967 and 1993, operating open pit and underground mining activities which reached a maximum depth of 150 metres. Environmental recovery included radioactive decontamination and safety works and, also, the stabilization of spoil heaps and embankments and the renaturation of water lines and scenic landscaped areas, as well as agricultural land, including the creation of an irrigation system to make use of rainwater without the need to resort to wells. The investment was in the order of 6 million euros and included a contribution from European Community funds.
The mining area of Espinho covers around 3.7 hectares, and the mine was operated between 1988 and 1990, as an open pit, from which around 18,000 tons of ore were removed with an average uranium content of 0.17%, corresponding to around 30 tons. The open cut is flooded with around 74,000 m³ of water, today forming an extraordinary water surface that enhances the site. The environmental remediation carried out here consisted of the shaping and sealing of spoil heaps, protection and safety works and drainage. The landscaping carried out affords the site excellent conditions for recreational activities. The investment was in the order of half a million euros and included a contribution from European Community funds.
In the municipality of Mangualde, the former mines of Valdante were also the subject of works under the environmental recovery of Cunha Baixa due to their proximity, and the former mining area of Freixiosa.
In 2017, the environmental remediation of the former mining area of Póvoa de Cervães will be completed, the works forming part of a general and simultaneous environmental restoration contract involving several former mining areas covering different municipalities (Castelejo, Formiga, Vale da Videira, in Gouveia, Vales, in Fornos de Algodres, and Póvoa de Cervães, in Mangualde), awarded on 20 September 2016, under a project approved by the POSEUR (4.9 million euros).