LIFE Project Cover Photo

Fluvial freshwater habitat recovery through geomorphic-based mine ecological restoration in Iberian Peninsula

Reference: LIFE18 ENV/ES/000181 | Acronym: LIFE RIBERMINE



Mining has a high economic importance for fundamental strategic sectors of the EU. The EU non-energy extractive industry in 2007 generated a business volume of approximately 49 000 million euro and employed about 287 000 people. However,runoff and sedimentaffect downstream water quality, wildlife in rivers and hydro-morphologic properties, made worse by acid mine drainage (AMD). The generation of solid and liquid wastes (as AMD), and their release on land and into waterways, are critical impacts of mining.


LIFE RIBERMINE aims to minimise hydro-morphologic pressures and improve the water quality of two areas affected by different types of mining (metal and non-metal) in two EU countries, Spain and Portugal, in line with the objectives of the Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC).

Specifically, the project aims to:

  • reduce hydro-morphological pressures and both physical and chemical pollution in freshwater bodies by improving the water quality and dynamics in two river basins the Tagus Basin and the Corona Basin after restoring two severely degraded areas (derelict mining exploitations); and
  • apply and adapt a combination of the Best Available Techniques (BAT) for mine restoration, based on fluvial-geomorphic solutions, used so far only at a pilot scale, on larger areas (demonstration project) and transfer these techniques to other mine-degraded areas in the EU.


    Expected results:

  • improved hydro-morphological conditions and water quality downstream of the two areas of restoration (Santa Engracia and Lousal mines), reducing suspended sediment concentration to 24 g/l in the Tagus river. About 21 500 m of river stretches (about 12% of Tagus stretch in this area) will show a significant improvement after the mine restoration. It is expected to solve the main environmental problem of the Upper Tagus Natura 2000 site;
  • improved ecosystems and biodiversity: macrophytes up by 15%, macroinvertebrates (IBMWP index; species richness) by 10% and fish (EFI+ and species richness) by 15%;
  • reduced erosion and sediment yield from the Santa Engracia mine and its spoil heaps, currently above 300 t/ha/year, balancing them with the baseline values of their natural environment (5-10 t/ha/year);
  • reduced pH and dissolved metal content to acceptable values (pH 7) in polluted surface and subsurface waters affected by AMD (Lousal mine);
  • establishment of a soil mosaic and 1 200 plants per hectare of native plants to restore severely degraded mining areas, and recover ecosystemservices lost by mining activity;
  • demonstration that the BAT for mine restoration, tested so far at a pilot scale, can be implemented on a large scale in mining restoration (GeoFluv, Talus Royal and SIBERIA methods);
  • transfer and testing of the methodology under metal mining impact conditions in Lousal, Portugal;
  • development of a holistic model and a manual of revegetation for mining restoration and transferring them to other EU countries;
  • replication and transfer of the project results to at least four additional EU countries, by practical training activities and a pilot project in Lousal. At least five mining companies will participate in the technical courses (150 attendees);
  • the project will reach at least 25% of the residents of the project areas, about 6 700 local people;Incorporation of the project results, at regional level, in the legal requirements of the Mining Regional Administration, and promotion of legislative initiatives to incorporate the project results at national level; and
  • creation of approx. 10 direct jobs and 52 contracts for external assistance.

    Reference: LIFE18 ENV/ES/000181
    Start Date: 16/09/2019
    End Date: 16/03/2024
    Total Eligible Budget: 2,934,928 €
    EU Contribution: 1,613,979 €
    Project Location:


    Coordinating Beneficiary: Consejera de Desarrollo Sostenible de la Junta de Comunidades de Castilla-La Mancha
    Legal Status: PAT
    Address: Avda. Rio Estenilla, s/n, 45071, TOLEDO, España
    Contact Person: De la Villa Albares Javier
    Email: Send Email
    Website: Visit Website

    LIFE Project Map



    • Mining - Quarrying
    • Water resources protection
    • Pollutants reduction
    • Soil and landscape protection


    • water quality improvement
    • mine
    • water resources management
    • water pollution
    • river management
    • ecosystem-based approach


    • Directive 2000/60 - Framework for Community action in the field of water policy (23.10.2000)


    Name Type
    CCV Lousal(Associação Centro Ciência Viva do Lousal), Portugal Participant
    GEACAM(Gestión Ambiental de Castilla-La Mancha), Spain Participant
    CAOBAR(CAOBAR, S.A.), Spain Participant