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Soil health surrounding former mining areas: characterization, risk analysis, and intervention

On going


Abstract: The waste resulting from coal mining activities, Sb-Au and W (N Portugal) deposited in heaps, are a source of pollution in the surrounding soils and water sources. The study will assess environmental pollution to determine mitigation measures required to restore the good condition of these resources, in addition to the sociological impact associated to the exploitation of geological resources and the perception of risks and hazards for the population. We have selected 2 main areas in northern Portugal where metallic and non-metallic mines operated: (i) the Sb-Au mines (mineralisations in the western flank of the Valongo anticline) and W (Regoufe mining area); and, (ii) the Fojo heap, located close to the Pejão coal mine, in a process of spontaneous combustion in 2017. The aim is to carry out an integrated characterisation of mining waste, soils and areas affected by these mining structures in order to identify environmental impacts and contribute to their mitigation through the assessment of soils and water. This integrated study, based on advanced and technical petrographical, physical, geophysical and environmental methods, will enable the assessment of changes in the residual materials and soils, providing an insight into the potential environmental impacts. On the other hand, the leachates from these tailings reach ecosystems, with ecotoxicological effects on aquatic species and plants, where the bioavailable compounds cause significant stress to these species, as well as soil toxicity affecting plant growth, visible through their morphological parameters and pollen quality. The project includes only the "RL1 - Soil health surrounding a former mining area: the case studies of coal, Sb-Au and W mines - A multidisciplinary approach to the effects of the mining activities on the condition of the surrounding soils and waters". To identify the effects of soil and water contamination in the areas surrounding the coal and Sb-Au and W mines, the project will consist of: i) the collection and systematisation of information on the geological setting where the heaps are deposited; ii) the identification and quantification of heavy metals, environmentally-sensitive trace elements, magnetic minerals and PAH in soils and aquifers in the area surrounding the quarries, by integrating petrographical, geochemical, geophysical and physical data; iii) assess the toxicological effects of bioavailable compounds resulting from the activation by water and wind; iv) use GIS applications to produce maps to: a) identify the spatial distribution of contaminated areas; b) assess the extent of pollution; and c) characterise environmental and health risks; v) compare the concentration of pollutants in soils and water with the values stipulated by law; vi) predict progressive scenarios of contaminated soils, surface water and groundwater; vii) promote an active and informed citizenship through the dissemination of research findings.  

End beneficiaries/target population: population of mine-affected territories

Timeline: 2021-2023

Team Members
Useful Links
Universidade do Porto (FCUP; FEUP; FLUP; FBAUP) - Proponente
ICT - Instituto de Ciências da Terra (UÉvora) - Pólo FCUP (Líder)
CERENA - Centro de Recursos Naturais e Ambiente (IST) – Pólo FEUP
CIQUP/FCUP - Centro de Investigação em Química da Universidade do Porto
IS-UP - Instituto de Sociologia da Universidade do Porto
i2ADS - Instituto de Investigação em Arte, Design e Sociedade, FBAUP
Entidade de Financiamento
Norte 2020 – Scientific and Technological Research Support System (SAICT) - "Structured R&D&I projects"- Horizon Europe (Ref. NORTE-01-0145-FEDER-000056)
Start Year


Faculdade de Letras da Universidade do Porto
Via Panorâmica, s/n
4150-564 Porto, Portugal

Phone: +351 226 077 132


Other Contacts




Ref. UIDP/00727/2020

Ref. UIDB/00727/2020