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New research chair to examine ways to remediate old coal mines


Sydney, NS – A new Research Chair in Mine Water Remediation and Management at Cape Breton University will search for new ways to limit the long-term environmental impact of coal mining.

Dr Christian Wolkersdorfer, a leading mine-water expert from Germany, has been appointed the first chairholder, and the federal government has announced it is providing $1.7 million funding over five years for the position, through Cape Breton Development Corpoation (Devco).

“Devco is excited to be a partner in this important initiative,” says Dr Ross McCurdy, the organization’s president and CEO. We are confident that Dr Wolkersdorfer’s world-renowned research will lead to enhanced solutions which will benefit other mine systems inCanada and elsewhere in the world.”

Cape Breton has about 3,200 km of underground workings – the legacy of more than a century of coal mining. With the cessation of active mining, it is normal for mine workings underground to become flooded with water. This water can be acidic and contaminated with dissolved iron and metals. As a result, outflows of mine water must be managed or treated to protect the environment.

Devco began a pilot program last year to examine the benefits of passive treatment of mine water using constructed wetlands. The CBU chair will expand on this and other research efforts to enhance mine-water management activities in the future.