The legacy we will be

Past, present and future

The beach of As pontes is located on the old mine sinkhole. The beach of As pontes is located on the old mine sinkhole.
The beach of As pontes is located on the old mine sinkhole.

I was a teenager the first time I travelled from Madrid to As Pontes. My love of canoeing took me there, to compete in a Spanish Cup that was held in the reservoir of A Ribeira. Years later, while studying the last courses of Mining Engineering, I had to work in a company and I managed to get a scholarship in a mine that had a canoeing club nearby. And that's how As Pontes came back into my life.

The first time I toured the mine I felt overwhelmed by the sheer size of it, 2,400 hectares between mine and dump, so the first few weeks I was continuously lost among the tangle of tracks, tapes and machines that made up the mine. At that time I knew nothing about the site or its origin, a lagoon that was filled with plant and detrital material 21 million years ago, nor did I know anything about the plans that were being prepared for when the coal mining ended.

Forests of Beech, Oaks, common pine and a wide variety of other families cover what was once the old dump of the As Pontes mine. Forests of Beech, Oaks, common pine and a wide variety of other families cover what was once the old dump of the As Pontes mine.
Forests of Beech, Oaks, common pine and a wide variety of other families cover what was once the old dump of the As Pontes mine.
The recovery of the dump and the open mine of As Pontes is an example of environmental recovery and economic legacy between generations. The recovery of the dump and the open mine of As Pontes is an example of environmental recovery and economic legacy between generations.
The recovery of the dump and the open mine of As Pontes is an example of environmental recovery and economic legacy between generations.

On a professional level, I took my first steps in the areas of hydrogeology and geotechnics, but over time I became involved in the project to fill the mining hole, whose final objective was to integrate the excavated land back into the natural environment, turning the huge hole into a lake more than twice the size of Lake Sanabria. The entire process of planning and executing the closure works took almost 15 years, from the end of the 90s until 2012, when the filling that was started in 2008 ended.

My children never saw the mine during the mining phase, and for them it's a lake where we spend many hours in summer and in which they sometimes see me with my canoe, but I try to convey to them the importance that the As Pontes mine had for economic and social development during the more than 60 years in which coal was mined from it. I think I've gotten them to understand that although there are now more sustainable ways to produce electricity, coal was the fuel of the technological revolution that enabled the progress we now enjoy.

Centuries or millennia

One of the things that I find most curious about the work carried out in the mine is that a large part of those who participated were not aware of how special they were, handling machines that could only be found here (bucket-wheel excavators and stackers over 40 m high), nor that the result of their effort will last for centuries or millennia. Regarding the latter, I think it is something we can be proud of, sinceit managed to offset in large part for the environmental impact produced, generating wealth for society along the way.

The whole process of restoring the land affected by mining began in the 80s. At that time, the management of the mine considered that it was necessary to integrate the restoration of the outer dump, where the sterile extracted from the mine was deposited, into the production process. What seems obvious to us right now was not evident back then. It's obvious: the sooner things start and the more they are planned, the better they tend to come out. Thus, a methodical revegetation was initiated, integrating it into coal mining with the aim of creating conditions that would allow vegetation to grow and favour the arrival of animals (deer, foxes, wolves, wild boars, roe deer, otters, hares, rabbits, storks, etc.), without it being necessary to carry out a repopulation.

“A methodical revegetation of the outer dump was initiated that favoured the arrival of animals (deer, foxes, wolves, wild boars, roe deer, otters, hares, rabbits, storks, etc.), without it being necessary to carry out a repopulation”.
Today long grass meadows cover what was once part of the old dump of the As Pontes mine. Today long grass meadows cover what was once part of the old dump of the As Pontes mine.
Today long grass meadows cover what was once part of the old dump of the As Pontes mine.
Today, the water in the form of small lagoons full of birds returned to the grounds of the old dump of the As Pontes mine. Today, the water in the form of small lagoons full of birds returned to the grounds of the old dump of the As Pontes mine.
Today, the water in the form of small lagoons full of birds returned to the grounds of the old dump of the As Pontes mine.

239 species of vertebrate

The outer dump is currently a huge mountain, the height of a 45-storey building, about 200 metres away from the lakeshore. The revegetation of the wastelands was completed in 2006, giving rise to 1,200 hectares of meadows, scrub areas, wooded areas and small ponds; varied habitats that, together with the lake, have naturally attracted more than 239 species of vertebrates.

Returning to the lake, public access to the beach opened in 2012. It was a very strange day for me, because on the one hand I was glad that people could finally enjoy our work, but on the other hand we stopped being able to control what happened and ended a very important stage in my life. In addition to the beach, shallow areas, islands and three waterfalls were also built on the lake. The shallow areas and islands were built to favour the spawning of fish and colonisation by aquatic plants, while waterfalls connect the lake with three basins that were diverted at the time to enable mining.

All phases of the filling project were very delicate: the planning, obtaining the permits, the execution of the preparatory works and, of course, the derivation of the Eume River, which is one of the largest rivers and of greatest natural value in Galicia. As for water management, it was not only a question of opening the floodgates and letting the waters circulate; it was necessary to carry out an exhaustive control of all the canals derived from the mining hole, especially on stormy days when overflows occurred. So, we spent many hours touring the canals in the rain, and although I wasn't happy about getting soaking wet at the time, I now remember it very fondly.

Today, among the forests and meadows of what was once the dump of the As Pontes mine, lorries carrying coal debris have given way to a rich ecosystem of native fauna and flora.
Today, among the forests and meadows of what was once the dump of the As Pontes mine, lorries carrying coal debris have given way to a rich ecosystem of native fauna and flora.

Throughout the rehabilitation project, expensive decisions were made, without knowing whether they would achieve the environmental objective set, but it was considered that the risk was worth it, and the result is that there are many mining lakes and dumps in the world, but very few have the chemical quality of the waters of Lake As Pontes and the biodiversity of the outer dump. Perhaps risking a mistake has been the secret of success. My children enjoy the lake, as will many generations to come. I'm sure that As Pontes will soon be better known for its lake than for the thermal power plant and mine.

“I'm sure that As Pontes will soon be better known for its lake than for the thermal power plant and mine”.

José Antonio Menéndez Lolo

Endesa's Institutional Relations in the Northwest sector.

Related Content

advise icon go to the advise Facebook icon go to Facebook Twitter icon go to Twitter Youtube icon go to Youtube Messenger icon go to Messenger Linkedin icon go to Linkedin Instagram icon go to Instagram Shared Link icon Go to the shared link Checkmark Success icon Checkmark Success down arrow icon down arrow Previous Go to previous Next Go to the next close icon close add icon add up arrow icon up arrow oblique arrow icon look obliquely Arrow down icon Arrow down search engine icon search search engine icon search share icon share filter icon filter email icon send mail email icon email phone icon phone fax icon fac print icon print play icon play user icon go to the user section error icon an error has occurred info icon information thumb up icon like thumb up icon like thumb down icon don't like thumb down icon don't like clock icon Clock Lamp icon Lamp List icon List Map icon Go to the map Phone icon Phone Emergency icon Emergency Pause icon Pause Play icon Play Logout icon Sign off Phone icon Phone Download icon An icon representing a download Chat icon An icon representing a chat
go back icon go back in navigation number 50 icon go to product Tempo Happy 50 Horas calendar icon go to product Tempo Happy Día companies icon go to the business segment gas icon go to gas product catalog rising sun icon go to Tempo Verde-Renewable Energy product home icon go to the household segment 24 hours icon go to One Luz product electricity icon go to Luz's product catalog electricity and gas icon go to the Luz + Gas product catalog moon icon go to product One night light monkey wrench icon go to breakdowns and repairs sun icon go to Tempo Solar product clock icon go to Tempo Happy products 2 hour clock icon go to Tempo Happy 2 Hours product 24 hours icon go to product One Luz number 50 icon go to product Tempo Happy 50 Hours Medium Voltage power line See product catalog with electricity consumption from € 36,000 to € 360,000 / year High Voltage power line See catalog of products with electricity consumption more than € 360,000 / year company icon go to the business segment calendar icon go to product Tempo Happy Day Property management firms icon go to the Property management firms DarkSite icon DarkSite icon light bulb icon See product catalog with electricity consumption less than € 6,000 / year electricity and gas icon go to the Electricity+ Gas Products catalog electricity icon go to the electrical products catalog email icon email contact fax icon fax contact Low Pressure gas icon see catalog of gas products with consumption of less than € 6,000 / year High Pressure gas icon see catalog of gas products with consumption from € 6,000 to € 240,000 / year Medium Pressure gas icon see catalog of gas products with consumption of more than € 240,000 / year gas icon go to gas product catalog Enel icon go to the enel website heater icon heater maintenance service heater maintenance icon go to maintenance service OKGas Heater home icon go to the household segment pressure cooker icon pressure cooker monkey wrench icon go to breakdowns and repairs Medium Voltage power line icon see catalog of electricity products with consumption from € 6,000 to € 36,000 / year moon icon go to product One Night Light sphere icon go to personal website phone icon telephone contact rising sun icon go to Tempo Verde-Renewable Energy product solar panel icon go to photovoltaic solar energy clock icon go to Tempo Happy products black handyman icon with thumb down selected the reaction "I don't like it" little hand icon with thumb down select the reaction "I don't like it" black hand icon with thumb up selected the "like" reaction little hand icon with thumb up select the "like" reaction
Añadir otro equipo eléctrico Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Eliminar equipo eléctrico Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Aspiradora Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Horno Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Lavadora Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Lavavajillas Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Microondas Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Plancha Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Punto de recarga vehículo eléctrico Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Radiador eléctrico Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Secadora Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Split Aire Acondicionado Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Termo Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Tostador Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Vitrocerámica Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Power edit Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Map marker Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit.