Priority Safety Works at the Former Avoca Mining Area
The Avoca mining area is located in the foothills of the Wicklow Mountains, 55 km south of Dublin. The mine site was worked intermittently for over 250 years with the extraction of 16 million tons of copper and pyrite ore and on-site processing of ore to produce copper concentrates. Mineral extraction has left an environmental legacy that comprises open pits, over 70 shafts and adits, numerous spoil piles, and former mine buildings and structures. Water discharges from the mine are acidic and metal laden which impacts water quality in the Avoca River.
The Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment appointed CDM Smith to provide technical, design, procurement and project management services for priority health and safety and remediation works at the Avoca mine site. The priority health and safety works implement the most urgent recommendations contained in the Feasibility Study and Management Plan prepared for the site by CDM Smith in 2008. The works are delivered on a phased basis and address a range of issues including remediation and environmental improvements, the making safe of adits, shafts and other openings into the underground workings and conservation works to heritage features.
The priority work addresses stability, health and safety issues, and contributes to environmental improvements by reducing contaminated runoff to the Avoca River.
The most important priority remediation action concerns the Tigroney spoil pile, located to the west of a railway line and standing at the base of the East Avoca mining area. This area served different purposes during the mining era and is covered in spoil material to an estimated average depth of 2 m. The close proximity of the spoils to the Avoca River is a direct contributor to reduced water quality in the river. The remediation works regraded and capped the spoils area, diverted surface drainage around the capped area into the river and included a number of actions to preserve mining heritage features on the site.