Avoca Remediation and Management Study
Geology Matters No. 7 
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Avoca Remediation and
Management Study

Eibhlín Doyle and Gerry Stanley

Avoca 1Background
The Avoca mining district has operated intermittently for over 260 years. Mining for copper and pyrite ceased in 1982. The deposits were hosted in Ordovician volcanic rocks. The site now comprises abandoned pits, mine processing site, tailings impoundments, waste rock tips and many historic adits and buildings. Upon closure in 1982 remediation of the tailings impoundment and the general tidying of the mine site took place. Water now issuing from the mine is acidic and flows into the nearby Avoca River which affects the fish life in the river.

Objectives of Study
The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources allocated funds to carry out an integrated, costed, conceptual management and remediation plans for the Avoca Mining Area, including the tailings facility at Shelton Abbey and any other areas related to the mining. The Minister gave responsibility for carrying out the study to the Geological Survey of Ireland while the work was to be carried out by experts with international experience in mine site rehabilitation.

The work will be carried out in two phases:
Phase 1:
1. To carry out an immediate safety audit and risk assessment of the Mining Area in its present state, and to provide a report to the Minister on any issues which in the consultant's opinion pose a serious immediate risk to human safety.
2. To review existing information and documentation for the site, and to provide a report to the Minister, setting out any additional information required, and costed proposals for its acquisition.
3. To undertake a preliminary risk assessment, based on existing information of the site in relation to the potential risks posed to human health, animal health and the wider environment. (This preliminary risk assessment will assist in the identification of deficiencies in existing information and will help identify suitable remediation options for the site.)
4. To provide a discussion document on the range of potential options for remediation and management of the site, together with the major advantages and disadvantages of each, and the principal constraints that will affect the choice of solutions.
5. To identify sites of industrial archaeology importance.
6. To identify and interact with key stakeholders agreed with the Department.

Avoca 2

Phase 2:
1. To carry out the approved programme of sampling, data collection and analysis from Phase 1 to supplement and confirm the information collected in Phase 1, and to report the results to the Minister.
2. To update the preliminary risk assessment carried out in Phase 1, with data and analysis collected during Phase 2, including the development of a conceptual site model, which should identify all possible significant sources of pollution, pathways for the pollution to travel and identify the human and environmental receptors as well as the processes that are likely to occur along each of the linkages and any uncertainties. The results from this work will assist in identifying management and /or remediation options for the site.
3. To consult with interested and affected parties on an ongoing basis.
4. To prepare management and/or remediation options for the site and the component sub-sites (e.g. open pits, tailings impoundments, waste heaps, mine discharges, contaminated streams and sediments), including where appropriate alternative management and/or remediation options for different sub-sites. The advantages and disadvantages of each option need to be identified. A comment on the sustainability of each management and/or remediation option is also required.
5. To provide cost estimates, both capital and operating, at feasibility level and timescales for implementing those options.
6. To develop a scheme to monitor the environmental status of the site.
7. Prepare and present a final report and recommendations to the Minister.
8. If required, to assist and advise the Department in discussing such plans with stakeholders.

The work will take into account the unique character of the site with respect to human and animal health, the environment, specialised habitats, material assets, heritage, tourism, potential future developments (including mineral) in the area, and other potential polluting sources in the area. The reason for including management and/or remediation options is that there may be a need to undertake further consultation with all relevant stakeholders before making a final decision in relation to the most appropriate management and/or remediation option for the site and sub-sites.

Avoca 3

The Consultants
The team undertaking this project is led by CDM, supported by two sub-consultants:

, one of the largest environmental consulting firms in the United States, with extensive experience on abandoned and historic mining, milling and smelter sites for US State and Federal Agencies. Overall, CDM has conducted over 650 remedial investigations and over 450 feasibility studies. CDM's office in Dublin has several ongoing commissions, notably the Eastern River Basin Project to implement the Water Framework Directive in Ireland. CDM are assisted by a UK based firm of specialist geotechnical consultants – GWP Consultants.

GWP Consultants is an independent partnership with over 30 years experience providing specialist consulting services in the UK and internationally, for the minerals, water, and related industries. GWP disciplines include mineral deposit and resource evaluation; quarry, landfill, restoration and after-use design; geotechnical engineering; hydrogeology, hydrology and water resource management; surveying; physical and environmental monitoring; mine planning, scheduling and equipment selection; mining economics and market assessments; and training.

Contact Details:
If you have any questions regarding this important project please use the contact details below:
Avoca Project Information telephone number: 01-672 2700
Eibhlín Doyle – GSI: Eibhlin.Doyle@gsi.ie GSI contact person and Project Manager.
Ruairí O'Carroll – CDM: ocarrollr@cdm.com CDM contact person in Ireland.

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