Three incidents that demonstrate the water risk facing mining

14 May 2015

The mining industry is highly water dependent which means managing related risks ranks high on the list of priorities. Here are three occasions when things didn’t go according to plan:

1. The Baia Mare Incident, Romania

In 2000, effluents containing cyanide leaked into the Tisza river from the Aurul mine in Romania. By the time the leak was detected, around 100,000 m3 of wastewater had reached the Danube and killed more than 1,000 tonnes of fish, as well as contaminating drinking water supplies for more than 2.5 million people. The spill evoked strong reactions across the European Union, resulting in stringent changes to mine safety and waste disposal requirements. 

2. Zijin Mining Group Acidic Copper Spill, China

In 2010, the Zijin Mining Group operating at Shanghang was forced to shut its copper smelter when it spilled 2.4 million gallons of acidic copper into the Ting River. The company is undergoing an extensive investigation and the financial impact is expected to be around 15% of its total production. 

3. Mount Polley Mine Disaster, Canada

In 2014, a tailing pond on the Mount Polley copper and gold mine was breached, resulting in 10 million m3 of contaminated water leaking into Polley Lake. The environmental impact is being assessed and the extent of the damage may not be known for some years. The Cariboo Regional District declared an emergency due to concerns over the quality of drinking water, which affected around 300 people. The company is expected to face fines of up to USD 1 million.

For further information, please contact Simon Delchar, CEO, Property, Casualty, Mining & Power on +44 (0)20 7466 6226

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