BEIJING (Reuters) – A spill from a tailings dam at a molybdenum mine in northeast China on Saturday has contaminated water up to 110 km (68 miles) downstream, environmental authorities said on Wednesday.
Tailings dams are commonly used by mining firms to store waste remnants of ore but they have come under close scrutiny since the collapse of one in Brazil last year killed more than 250 people.
In China’s Heilongjiang province on Saturday, water containing waste molybdenum ore – mined for the metal used in stainless steel and tools – flowed out of a tailings pond belonging to Yichun Luming Mining Co Ltd and into a river system. There were no casualties reported.
Testing of water in the Hulan river some 110 km southwest of the mining site in Yichun showed the molybdenum content was 2.8 times higher than standard levels on Tuesday, Heilongjiang’s department of ecology and environment said.
The Hulan flows into the Songhua river, the fifth-longest in China, in a northern district of provincial capital Harbin.