EnvIM EU - Fieldtrip to Pontgibaud

Situated in the north of Puy de Dôme in the "Parc des Volcans d'Auvergne", historically known for silver and lead resources, Pontgibaud mining industry ensured a sound economic development to the territory in the XVIII century. Rehabilitation projects are occuring today, on areas where remnant traces of these past activities are still present.

During their fieldtrip to Pontgibaud, in May 2017, The EnvIM Europe students visited several areas around the town in order to have a direct feeling of the historical economy of mining and smelting activities (and their operations) and to understand how the remaining tailings are and will be managed in order to mitigate their impacts on the environment and possible impacts on the health.

Some large areas where old tailings were disposed in the past still contain traces of pollutants and heavy metals (lead, arsenic, zinc, magnesium, etc.). Runoff water from the heaps goes into the stream of rivers and down to the areas where people and animals live. Some of the already rehabilitated tailing areas (since 2014) were located close to the town, in particular to sport facilities, which could have been a source of impact considering that it is highly frequented by inhabitants of Pontgibaud. Other areas will be rehabilitated in the coming years and studies are conducted to manage there impacts for the future.

How to rehabilitate those contaminated old mining sites?

Thanks to this fieldtrip EnvIM students worked on "La Roure" area as a specific case study and made poposition. Then they gathered recommendations for good end of life management of after-mining on a more general basis. In particular they learn that in a first step specific measurements and analysis are needed in order to adress a sound assessment of the concerned areas, then appropriate technical rehabilitation practises are to be undertaken, at then end good monitoring of a delimitated perimeter is required for the future.

But above all, as tailings and polluted areas can be hidden under vegetation, especially for old sites, good communication with people is at stake, to learn from experiences of people living close to the aeras, in order to raise fruitful discussions, and bring agreement and social acceptance of the rehabilitation process, .​