Mining operations, 2004
The creation of Lake Meirama in the valley of As Encobras, Cerceda (A Coruña) is one of the largest environmental restoration projects undertaken in Spain. The transformation of the former open-cast lignite mine into a man-made lake has created a large protected space, rich in biodiversity, which will increase the area's economic and tourism development. Lake Meirama is the world’s first artificial lake that could be used as a water reservoir for a large population without the need for intensive water treatment, specifically A Coruña and its area of influence, thanks to its high water quality.
Mining operations, 2004
View of the project in 2008 after the mining operation ended.
The lake was completely full after eight years. In the photo, in 2010.
The lake contains more than 148 hm3 of water. View of the project in 2014.
The lake still has some elements that recall its mining past.
The Meirama power plant continues to generate electricity.
The lake is surrounded by a green swath of 450,000 trees.
Lake Meirama beach, in the foreground.
The transformation project, with a €60 million investment, consisted of creating a large artificial lake 2.2 km long and 1 km wide in the former open-cast mine, and reforesting the land and spoil tips.
History of the mine
Launch of mining operations
First restoration plan
Conclusion of mining operations and launch of lake filling
Mining lake regulation project
Presentation of the book entitled ‘Biodiversity in the Meirama Mine Lake and Surrounding Area’
Conclusion of lake filling and ongoing supervision plan
Operation of the Meirama mine began in 1980 and ended in 2008, having supplied 94 million tonnes of lignite to the Meirama Thermal Power Plant, located in an area next to the mine.
The company’s environmental commitment for the restoration of the land began in 1985, when it presented the first plan to restore the mine.
The rehabilitation phase continued until the corresponding administrative licence was obtained from the Consellería de Industria for the closure, and Augas de Galicia to transfer the lake to the public water supply.
Birth of a lake
The main action in the Meirama lignite mine rehabilitation project consists of creating a large of 150 hm3 in the former open-cast mine.
Meirama is the first time anywhere in the world that a lake of this type could supply water for large populations without the need for intensive water treatment. Since the filling process began, Naturgy has monitored the water quality closely, with over 300,000 readings. The company has partnered with GEAMA (Hydraulic Engineering and Environment Group) at the University of A Coruña for the project and is using pioneering techniques to monitor the lake water in situ.
In September 2013, Augas de Galicia authorised the project to regulate the mine lake for use as a future water reservoir for the municipality of A Coruña and its area of influence, with a view to strengthening the supply system in the region of A Coruña with an additional volume of approximately 24 cubic hectometres. Augas de Galicia has now concluded the first phase of this regulation project.
Thanks to reforestation, the land once used by our company is now a green lung and carbon dioxide sink.
Catalogue of fauna and flora
Naturgy planted over 450,000 trees on the land of the former mine, making the area a carbon dioxide sink.
The forest management project for the external spoil tips, and the technical plan for the wilderness around the open-cast mine and internal spoil tips, concluded with the award of the PEFC Sustainable Forest Management certificate. The certificate guarantees that the raw materials come from a sustainably managed forest, and that the intermediate production processes (transport, transformation, etc.) are monitored.
Conserving this natural space as it regenerates will encourage the presence of high conservation value species, making this habitat a suitable place for studying and teaching natural values, while contributing to the cultural development and heritage of the area.
Potential for tourism and leisure
The environmental rehabilitation of Meirama will allow for the integration of the former mine with its surroundings and will increase economic and tourism development in the area.
At present access is restricted because the land around Lake Meirama is still under the state mining domain.
The Lake will have a beach at its western end to cater to the future uses which may be authorised by Augas de Galicia.
Lake Meirama has become an area of exceptional biodiversity.
All the animal species, and many of the plants, have repopulated the area naturally, without human intervention. They have found Lake Meirama to be a peaceful, protected habitat.