Mine site of one of Spain’s largest environmental disasters to re-open

AZNALCOLLAR mine in Sevilla is preparing to re-open after 17 years of disuse.

IN April 1998 a dam collapsed at the Aznalcollar lead and zinc mine, flooding the Agrio and Guadiamar rivers with almost two billion litres of mine tailings and a further four billion litres of heavy metals dissolved in acidified water.

Much of this pollution then flowed to the borders of one of Spain and Europe´s most pristine and important National Parks and Nature Reserves, the UNESCO world heritage site of Doñana National Park.

The subsequent clean-up operation cost €240 million and had vast impacts on the region’s wildlife.

Under new management the mine is now set to re-open, apparently creating more than 400 jobs again in the region – however the project has come under widespread criticism from a wide range of NGO´s and environmental organizations who believe the project is an unacceptable risk to the Doñana National Park.

The company re-opening the mine, Grupo Mexico, was involved in a similar mining disaster in Mexico recently.

Doñana is currently facing additional threats due to expanding farming development along it borders and dredging of the Guadalquivir River.

The UNESCO heritage site, Spain’s largest roadless area is the one of only two refuges for the Iberian Lynx, one of the world´s rarest large predators. Although increasing in numbers, no more than 300 wild Iberian Lynx are thought to survive in the wild.

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