Projects / Programmes source: ARRS

An integrated methodology for the remediation of an area impacted by the past mining activity

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
1.08.00  Natural sciences and mathematics  Control and care of the environment   

Code Science Field
P003  Natural sciences and mathematics  Chemistry 
P300  Natural sciences and mathematics  Analytical chemistry 
P305  Natural sciences and mathematics  Environmental chemistry 
B700  Biomedical sciences  Environmental health 
Mercury, modelling, scenarios, mass balance, remediation
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (19)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  24406  PhD Darija Armentano  Natural sciences and mathematics  Researcher  2008  91 
2.  03907  MSc Marko Cigale  Natural sciences and mathematics  Researcher  2008 - 2011  57 
3.  13747  Tatjana Dizdarevič  Engineering sciences and technologies  Researcher  2008 - 2011  105 
4.  30658  PhD Elvira Džebo  Engineering sciences and technologies  Junior researcher  2009 - 2011  27 
5.  19724  Vesna Fajon    Technician  2008 - 2011  296 
6.  05027  PhD Milena Horvat  Natural sciences and mathematics  Principal Researcher  2008 - 2011  1,821 
7.  21543  PhD Tjaša Kanduč  Natural sciences and mathematics  Researcher  2008 - 2009  469 
8.  25622  PhD David Kocman  Natural sciences and mathematics  Researcher  2008 - 2011  332 
9.  02564  PhD Branko Kontić  Natural sciences and mathematics  Researcher  2008 - 2009  503 
10.  24265  PhD Davor Kontić  Natural sciences and mathematics  Researcher  2008 - 2011  113 
11.  15814  PhD Jože Kotnik  Natural sciences and mathematics  Researcher  2008 - 2011  374 
12.  14111  PhD Mario Krzyk  Engineering sciences and technologies  Researcher  2008 - 2011  419 
13.  28342  PhD Vanja Ramšak  Engineering sciences and technologies  Junior researcher  2008 - 2011  16 
14.  25480  PhD Nataša Sirnik  Engineering sciences and technologies  Junior researcher  2008 - 2011  23 
15.  11277  PhD Andrej Širca  Engineering sciences and technologies  Researcher  2008 - 2011  275 
16.  18290  PhD Polona Vreča  Natural sciences and mathematics  Researcher  2008 - 2011  677 
17.  17380  Mojca Zelenc    Technician  2008 - 2009 
18.  12068  PhD Dušan Žagar  Engineering sciences and technologies  Researcher  2008 - 2011  762 
19.  26472  PhD Suzana Žižek  Natural sciences and mathematics  Junior researcher  2008 - 2009  86 
Organisations (2)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0106  Jožef Stefan Institute  Ljubljana  5051606000  85,821 
2.  0792  University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Civil and Geodetic Engineering  Ljubljana  1626981  26,016 
Highly elevated levels of mercury compounds in all environmental compartments of the whole impact area of the Idrija Mercury Mine due to centuries of mercury mining have had a negative impact on human health as well as on the entire ecosystem. The main objective of the proposed project is development of tools and strategies for reliable measurements and simulation of mercury levels in all environmental compartments and their influence on terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems. The methodology consists of a set of physical, biological and chemical measurements, management of collected data and development, calibration and application of models for short- and long-term predictions of mercury transport and transformations. The improved models will serve as tools for assessment of the environmental impact, and, by use of relevant socio-economic scenarios, as decision-support tools for evaluation of different remediation measures in the mercury-polluted area. More specific objectives of the project are: (1) to develop and calibrate (on the basis of measurements) an integrated environmental modelling tool for simulation of transport and transformations of mercury in all environmental compartments (soil, water and air) and fluxes between the compartments (2) to collect and manage measured data in a database (both existing data and data from measurements performed in the frame of the proposed project) (3) to compile relevant socio-economic data in the impacted area (4) to develop and validate scenarios in which it will be possible to compare different remediation measures (5) perform short- and long-term simulations using the integrated model for the Idrija Mercury Mine impact area and evaluate consequences of different measures in the impact area. The proposed methodology is in agreement with European Mercury Strategy and the results of the project will also contribute to general knowledge about mercury cycling in the environment, particularly at the interfaces between different environmental compartments.
Significance for science
The project consists of modelling research systematically supported by geochemical and biological studies, enabling us to understand the biogeochemical transformations of Hg in contaminated aquatic environment. The research participate in solving the question of Hg impact on microbial activity and the factors governing production and degradation of MeHg in the environment. Moreover, this study help answering the question why high Hg concentrations are not always reflected in high MeHg concentrations. Answers also define some factors governing the bioaccumulation of MeHg in food webs. The results permit comparison with other places where production and degradation of MeHg, one of the most dangerous pollutants, occurs. Complementary chemical, biological and physical measurements was performed in a mercury contaminated area in an integrated manner in order to provide the basis for meaningful and cost-effective monitoring strategies and to support modelling framework for short and long-term predictions of mercury behaviour in such areas. For the first time a state-of-the-art integrated modelling system was developed, which helped to (1) improve our understanding of several patterns of the mercury cycle in the contaminated environment combining river catchment and coastal environment and (2) integrate these finding into decision support system and therefore contribute to the implementation of the EU Directive on Mercury and the EU Framework Water Directive. This project incorporates environmental science coupled with socio-economics, which is an innovative feature.
Significance for the country
One of the tasks of the Idrija Mercury Mine is to study the environmental impact of long-time mining and as much as possible diminish its harmful influence to the environment and inhabitants as much as possible. The proposed project significantly contribute to the evaluation of the impact and consequences of mining in the whole Mercury mine impact area. Measurements of concentrations in different environmental compartments and the development and implementation of a data-base of measurement data provide evaluation of mercury pollution trends. The modelling tools was used to determine the state of pollution in both narrow and wide impact area of the Mine and help to determine short- and long-term influence of different remediation measures. The modelling tools contribute to decision-making about integral management within the Idrijca and Soča River catchments, i.e. land use, water management (irrigation, possible new hydro-power plants and / or other objects in the river system) and to decide the optimum remediation measures that are necessary in order to diminish harmful impacts of mercury mining to the environment. The project provides the scientific base and tools for the elaboration of an environmental risk management for the considered area in order to estimate the anthropogenic impact, to manage the polluted area and to propose the most adequate techniques for rehabilitation of the affected areas. The research was focused on the development of tools (data bases / methodologies / models) that can be further used in similar studies. The obtained results are fundamental in order to protect terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems affected by mercury contamination. Moreover, the project includes the compilation of existing data, performance of reliable methods and measurements and the prediction of mercury in the ecosystems. All the deliverables (database, methodology and the integrated modelling tool) and the results of measurements and model simulations obtained in the frame of the proposed project help to implement the monitoring programme in the wider Idrija region. The results of such monitoring in combination with newly developed routines and models represent a powerful tool in decision making and for further development of the considered area. The results of the modelling tools are also applicable in wide area of technical activities, connected to the catchment and coastal area management, such as erosion prediction and protection, water management, flood protection, sediment transport, water quality prediction etc.
Most important scientific results Annual report 2008, 2009, final report, complete report on dLib.si
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Annual report 2008, 2009, final report, complete report on dLib.si
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