The Almadén mine tip contains an enormous amount of wastes that have been deposited in the tip over the course of its history and its mercury content is generally very high. The tip has been affecting the environment for centuries and it is probably impossible to distinguish this one from the other that has caused from natural mercury levels, which are very considerable in the area. Between 2005 and 2008, Minas de Almadén mining company carried out a very important restoration work known as the Azogue Project.
Environmental characterisation studies of the immediate tip environment were performed before the restoration work took place and samples were taken of the surface and groundwater, together with sediments from the watercourses and surface and deep soil samples. The materials deposited in the tip were also characterised through the collection of historical information and the taking of borehole samples.
The information obtained made it possible to design the restoration work, which continued until 2008. At the same time and after the work had ended, an environmental surveillance plan was drawn up to analyse different parameters, mainly mercury, in groundwater (via boreholes made during the characterisation work and accessible local sources and wells) and surface water (ponds, streams and rivers). Tracking these parameters over the medium and long term will show whether the measures adopted were the right ones in a water environment, as air emissions and the dispersion of dust in the environment have been completely eliminated.
The huge amount of spatial data generated is stored in isolated reports and on closed IT systems or it is available to only a few people. The appropriate processing of this information requires the creation of a Geographic Information System (GIS). A GIS will make it possible to extract geographic information in a logical and visually efficient format based on the compilation of spatial data that can be located on a map or geo-referenced. The system could also incorporate topography and orthophotos from before and after the work, as well as all the analytical controls.
Once created, the system could be installed on a GIS web platform (so that information can be consulted on a private platform over the Internet). GIS web technology makes possible to transfer the maps and environmental information included in a GIS to the Internet.