Forging sustainability

EVALUSE – Environmental Vulnerability of Aljustrel Mining Area in terms of Land Use
Coordinator - Henrique José Figueiredo Garcia Pereira
CESAM Responsible researcher - Celeste Coelho
Programme - Programa Operacional Ciência e Inovação 2010
Execution dates - 2005-08-31 - 2008-07-31 (35 Months)
Funding Entity - FCT
Funding for CESAM - 6505 €
Total Funding - 60000 €
Proponent Institution - Instituto Superior Técnico
Participating Institutions
Universidade de Aveiro

Since prehistoric days until the end of the last millennium the mining exploitation was a preponderant factor in social-economic structure of the mine surrounding regions, functioning as a population attractor for these regions. The Iberian Pyrite Belt, where the Aljustrel Mining area is inserted, constitutes the biggest European mining district, covering a band of approximately 250 km long and 1 km wide that crosses the south of the Iberian Peninsula, where innumerable active or abandoned mines and occurrences are located. The Aljustrel Village was developed around the 6 exploitations of massive polimetalic sulphides that encircle it. The activity had a positive contribution to the social-economic growth of the area. On the other hand, the visual and environmental impact of the mining process in the region is a negative consequence conditioning the population life quality, due to soil, sediments and water contamination. At a time when it is foreseen to restart of the mining exploitation in Aljustrel, the evaluation of the environment vulnerability of the area becomes a priority, in order to identify sensible zones from an environmental point of view that consequently affect the natural resources of the region and the populations quality of life. On the other hand, the positive economic impact of the mining process should be balanced with the above mentioned environmental issues. The proposed methodology in this project aims at an integrated study of several parameters, namely in the domain of geochemistry (soil and sediments), quality of the superficial and groundwater, social-economic impacts and information obtained from satellite images (Landsat and Quickbird). On the basis of geostatistical techniques (kriging and conditional simulation), a model is to be constructed, containing the estimation and simulation of relevant parameters. This model contributes for identifying areas where the potential damage caused by soil and water contaminations is felt. The joint analysis of satellite images and geostatistical maps allows characterizing and quantifying the contaminated areas in the remote sensing maps, using a GIS to integrate all the information. In parallel, a social-economic study of the Aljustre involving area will be conducted, aimed at characterizing the population distribution, as well as the respective economic activities. In this way it is intended to evaluate the potential risks and costs for the community entailed by soil and water contamination in terms of land use. This information is to be combined, in a joint way, in the vulnerability cartography of the area, leading, as a final product to a tool that allows an optimization of the natural resources management of the region, under a socio-economical perspective that includes environmental concerns. The vulnerability zoning maps are to be used as a reliable base for a decision support system aiming at rationalizing land use planning.

Members on this project
Celeste Coelho

CESAM Funding: