Following the closure of the mines and the influx of new technology-based employment in the Valleys, communities have benefited from development funding, jobs and retraining programs. Inevitably this has had a positive effect on community health and there have been real improvements in life expectancy, education and standards of living.
Opencast mines can have a massive impact on surrounding communities, not only from exposure to coal dust particles but also from the dust produced by overburden dumps (a mixture of top soils and poor quality coal), which remain uncontrolled and exposed. The dumps at Nant Llesg could be 150 feet high, and just a few metres away from homes and businesses in Rhymney.
The prevailing winds will carry the dust particles across the whole community, impacting on people’s lives for years to come. Health experts say that the dust we see is not as dangerous as the dust we can’t see and continued exposure to these minute particles over long periods are known to cause diseases like asthma, bronchitis and emphysema.