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A plan for the remediation of a historic abandoned lead-zinc sulfide mining site (Balya, Balıkesir, Turkey) prepared for the EuropeAid Mining Waste Management Project
In the area around the town of Balya, mining of lead and silver occurs already during times of Pericles. At the end of the 19th century, the French-Turkish "Societé des Mines de Balya Karaydın" operates one of the largest lead-zinc mines in the world, employing 30.000 people at the Balya mine.
Nowadays, the town of Balya has 1500 inhabitants and some ruins of the former ore processing plants in a stream valley with about 50 hectares of barren land covered by toxic mining waste. During a century of exposure to atmospheric oxygen and rainwater, the lead- and zinc- and in particular iron sulfide minerals that were originally present in the mining waste, oxidized to very soluble, acid, metal-sulfate salts. Wildlife disappeared from the area and each year during the wet season, large quantities of persistent toxic metal ions of arsenic, cadmium, copper, mercury, lead and zinc wash into streams for transport down-current, where they poison water reservoir and bird sanctuary.
As part of the europeaid Mining Waste Management project, executed by a Finnish-Hungarian-Turkish consortium on behalf of Turkish government, GeoChemTec had the honor to develop a plan for remediation of the area involving geochemical technology. The proposed remediation aims at restoring the land as best as possible to conditions as they existed before mining activity started, using best available technologies that are economically feasible.