Sustainable Redevelopment of Mining Communities

Issues & Objectives:

Project issues common for all ex-mining communities.

From the risks identified by the feasibility studies 4 main common European
issues are formulated. These issues are addressed in this project and are
relevant for many areas in the EU. They will be addressed in a transnational
way for example by making use of the MINEWATER expert network of observers.
These observers are described in detail in the Key action section:


1. Issues in the legal and regulatory theme

  • Clarification of the ownership and transferability of various rights and obligations in relation to the minewater in Heerlen, Midlothian and Northwest Europe
  • Acquiring permissions required for drilling, water extraction and injection, etc.


2. Issues in the technical theme:

  • Drilling into closed mines up to 800 metres (NL) and risks involved (collapse of the mineworkings)
  • Extraction of geothermal energy from hot water in abandoned coal mines (NL,UK) and risks involved (corrosion, permeability, porosity, clogging, variation in temperature)
  • Creation of a geothermal doublet (short circuit of the underground water circulation) for heating and cooling purposes
  • Extension of the system to make district heating possible
  • Large scale integration of technical elements of minewater abstraction/discharge, heat pumps, CHP and district heating.


3. Issues in the Environmental and spatial impact theme:

  • Using old mine workings as a resource leading to CO2 reduction.
  • Avoiding pollution of the minewater and collapse of mineworkings caused by drilling
  • Investigating cross-national environmental aspects; examples are Netherlands-Germany-Belgian and Belgian-French coal mining areas.
  • Developing an innovative way of sustainable spatial planning


4. Issues in the economic and community theme:

  • Identifying micro- and macroeconomic opportunities and effects of Mine water extraction
  • Empowering and Involving socially disadvantaged, culturally fractured communities.
  • Counteracting unattractiveness of mining areas for incomers (business and residential) due to poor image and migration of the young to better employment prospects.
  • Overcoming reluctance of private developers to innovate and invest in the project (planning process is time consuming and expensive for new technologies and designs and marketing risky).

Besides these, the important issues of Communication, Dissemination and
Innovation will be dealt with in the management and interaction with
observers in this project.

The main objective:

To reduce the ecological footprint of ex-mining communities by
demonstrating that it is economically viable and environmentally sound to
extract geothermal energy from the water in former and closed coal mines on
a large scale such that it can be used for district heating and cooling
purposes of residential/commercial areas and to disseminate this new
renewable energy resource for replication throughout North-Western and
Eastern Europe.

The heat extraction on this scale is innovative and will be connected to
existing technologies of district heating. The project will demonstrate the
potential benefits that can be gained from utilising a sustainable energy
source for heating and cooling in all mining communities throughout
Europeand beyond and its economic, legal, and technical implications.
This will
set a new standard for other mining communities and their regeneration.
Given that extracting heat from mine water has very low carbon intensity
when linked to Combined Heat Power (CHP) it will have a very positive impact
on reducing CO2 emissions and therefore contribute to meeting Europe's
Kyotocommitments. It builds on extensive and thorough feasibility

There are three sub objectives:

a.  To build new urban areas within old mining communities to improve
spatial planning, environmental effects, and economic performance of the
area by:

   - Providing affordable sustainable energy supply to the new
   development and integral approach of a spatial (urban) development
   - Using attractive design and low energy costs as magnets for new
   businesses and to attract people to and keep people in the area.
   - Demonstrating a new way of spatial development to sceptical
   developers and planners to meet future sustainability requirements.
   - Learning from past re-skilling and employment programs, which
   failed, because the mining history was neglected.
   - Attracting investors to the area and keep high educated people
   within the area.

b. To instigate the mine water heating process in other mining
in the European Union and future European Union countries by:

   - Solving problems and providing information on the legal and
   regulatory issues regarding the extraction of heat from abandoned mines.
   - Reducing technical risks regarding drilling into an extraction of
   heat from abandoned mines.
   - Providing information for designers to enable and encourage the
   adoption and integration of new sustainable designs for buildings and energy
   supply systems.
   - Providing information to local authorities and other ex mining
   communities on the possibilities and advantages of encouraging and
   supporting new sustainable designs for buildings and energy supply systems
   and interacting with them during the project.
   - Providing information and liaising with private developers to
   encourage the adoption of new sustainable designs for buildings and energy
   supply at an early stage in the development process.
   - Giving training courses, seminars, and inviting local authorities
   from other areas to be involved with the project to learn and view its
   development and progress.

c. To create a positive image of the heritage of mining communities by

  • Using the old mine as a source of energy and put the pride of their heritage back into the community (and/or use that existing pride to engage the existing community in the new development).
  • Introducing an innovative communication strategy that makes it possible to take the past traumas of the mine workers communities and their present perception of the economic, social and environmental reality into account.

The common European issues will be addressed through transnational Theme
Teams. Addressing these will have an important and positive effect on the

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