Endesa has made the restoration of a natural area possible in an old coal mine. As Pontes (A Coruña, Galicia) today is a natural environment with a new ecosystem and a lake the size of A Coruña. The lake, with an 18 kilometre perimeter and 205 meters depth (which were the measurements of the old mine), has a beach some 500 meters in length to practice nautical sports, or to sunbathe on the 370 meter shoreline. It is one of the main industrial area recovery projects carried out by Endesa.
The As Pontes coal mine was exploited for 3 decades (1976-2007). During this time, more than 260 tonnes of carbon were mined. It was one of Europe's most contaminated mine. Specifically it was the EU's ninth most contaminated mine, since it fed a thermal plant that at that time produced 1,400 megawatts in its four electrical groups.
This mine went on to become a natural beauty, an example of transformation and restoration valued at more than 35 million euros with Europe's deepest artificial lake. This has been an excellent way to give this mine rich and self-sustainable vegetation as a habitat for local fauna. In this way, life is returned to a sterile place, worthy of being conserved as a Natural Park.
Europe's deepest artificial lake
The construction process for an artificial lake of these dimensions and achieving drinkable water was a complicated process. The depleted soil of the coal mine was formed by materials that contained minerals with an alkaline composition. Said materials are responsible for producing water with a high acidity percentage and a PH that made animal or vegetable survival difficult.
To solve this inconvenience, the bottom was made waterproof with acrylic material. Once the lake bed was prepared,filling began with rain water and water from the Eume (63% of volume), Illade and Meidelo rivers, various streams and run-off water (that which circulates above the surface of a drainage basin). Filling of the lake began in 2008 and in April 2012 the filling work was completed.
Conversion from a landfill into an ecosystem
Today, the water running through the As Pontes lake is considered some of the best in the area. It has species such as trout and breams, which have made the waters their home in a natural manner.
The treatment given to the large mountain of waste to turn it into a fertile area was similar to that carried out for construction of the lake.
A layer of natural compost from the area was added to the landfill soil and subsequently, native tree species were planted to grow in this mineral rich environment.
As for wild flora, this began rooting thanks to seeds from the surrounding area, which were drawn to this ecosystem by the wind.
Now there are more than 600,000 trees growing in this ecosystem and more than 180 animal species between vertebrates, birds and invertebrates. Among these are boar, deer, vultures and various birds of prey.