MAC: Mines and Communities

China's Zijin causes yet more pollution

Published by MAC on 2010-09-27
Source: Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal, Reuters (2010-09-27)

Company tries concealing tailings dam collapse

In July, China's biggest mining company was indicted for massive pollution, in which thousands of fish were killed. See: China: pollution and protests increase

Just over two months later, Zijin has been held responsible for the collapse of a tin tailings dam, which it initially blamed on torrential rains following a typhoon.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, Chinese state media have accused Zijin of bribing reporters in an effort to suppress the news.

Local residents were also said to have complained that leaks from the dam "were far worse than the company admitted" and "had even preceded the rainfall".

Zijin Says Typhoon Causes Dam Collapse at Tin Mine

By Jack Kaskey

Bloomberg

21 September 2010

Zijin Mining Group Co. said a dam built to hold tin-mining waste collapsed in China's Guangdong province following torrential rain, less than three months after one of its copper mines leaked toxic waste into a river.

About 60 centimeters (24 inches) of rain from Typhoon Fanapi and mud and rock slides triggered the accident at the company's Yinyan tin mine at about 10 a.m. local time today, Shanghang, Fujian province-based Zijin said in a statement. The mine is in trial production, Zijin said.

Power, communications and transport were suspended at the mine in Xinyi city, the company said. Emergency relief work is in progress and there aren't any known casualties, Zijin said. A company warehouse in Guangdong collapsed, killing five people, hurting seven and leaving six missing, Hong Kong government broadcaster Radio Television Hong Kong reported today, without saying where it got the information.

Fanapi has brought the heaviest rains in a century to the southern province of Guangdong, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. Heavy rain triggered floods and landslides in Guangdong's Maoming City, where more than 8,000 people were evacuated, Xinhua said.

Zijin was forced to shut its copper plant at Zijinshan mine in Fujian after acidic waste spilled from the site on July 3, poisoning almost 2,000 metric tons of fish in the Ting River. Police detained four Zijin managers and the company is being probed by regulators over delayed disclosure of the spill.


Another Storm, Another Spill for China Miner

Wall Street Journal (blogs)

22 September 2010

Zijin Mining Group Co. said Wednesday that a pool designed to contain hazardous runoff from a tin mine collapsed due to heavy rains.

Rain has presented surprisingly big challenges this year for Zijin, one of China's largest mining groups and a company that boasts its technological prowess, even in harsh conditions like the permafrost of Tibet.

In July, the company, sometimes called Purple Mountain, initially blamed storms on the collapse of another so-called tailing pool at a major copper mine. Zijin said acidic copper and sulfate were released, killing tons of fish in the Ting River that runs near its headquarters in Fujian province.

Later, state media accused Zijin of bribing reporters in an effort to suppress the news, while local residents complained that leaks were far worse than the company admitted and had even preceded the rainfall.

Zijin later admitted that foul weather was only part of the problem. "The Company was overconfident, had a lack of crisis awareness and didn't properly handle the balance between economic efficiency, ecological benefit and public interest," the Zijin board said in a letter.

At least one company official was detained by police and regulatory agencies said they would look at Zijin's actions as traces of the leak appeared to spread into Guangdong province.

On its website, Zijin highlights its environmental concerns: "We pursue gold and silver, but care more about clear water and green mountains."

In a summer dominated by news of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, China still managed to grab headlines with a string of environmental disasters, including its own worst oil spill. A deadly blast at a chemical factory in Nanjing killed scores, barrels containing toxic chemicals were apparently driven into a northern river after storms and garbage clogged the Three Gorges Dam.

The environmental record of companies like Zijin matters beyond China's shores. Zijin, for instance, is a primary mover in China's go-global push to secure mineral supplies around the world.

In the wake of the Ting River spill, Chairman Chen Jinghe told Dow Jones Newswires in August that the miner would slow its global expansion to focus on strengthening its operations at home. Shortly afterward, a push into Congo was suspended.

In Wednesday's statement, Zijin said it's too early to know all the details of what happened, which occurred at a subsidiary in Guangdong province, Xinyi Zijin Mining Co.

Zijin said 600 millimeters (about 2 feet) of rain pounded the site as Typhoon Fanapi made landfall late on Monday, collapsing a dam on the tailing pond, which is designed to capture waste water. Xinhua said Guangdong saw its heaviest rains in a century, with the area around the tin mine among the worst hit.

The storm severed key communication links with the mine, as well as electricity and transportation. Officials were traveling to the site, Zijin said, adding
"At this time, the effect of this incident on Yinyan Tin Mine cannot be assessed."


Zijin Mining Shares Drop in Hong Kong After Dam Collapse at China Tin Mine

By Elisabeth Behrmann

Bloomberg

21 September 2010

Zijin Mining Group Co. fell the most in a month in Hong Kong trading after a dam built to hold tin-mining waste collapsed yesterday in China's Guangdong province following torrential rain.

Zijin Mining, based in Fujian province, fell as much as 2.85 percent. The stock traded 1.7 percent lower at HK$5.87 as of 10:38 a.m. Hong Kong time.

About 60 centimeters (24 inches) of rain from Typhoon Fanapi as well as mud and rock slides triggered the accident at the Yinyan tin mine, which is in trial production, Zijin Mining said yesterday in a statement. Power, communications and transport have been suspended at the site.

The incident comes less than three months after one of Zijin's copper mines leaked toxic waste into a river, poisoning almost 2,000 metric tons of fish in the Ting River. Zijin was forced to shut its copper plant at the Zijinshan mine in Fujian after the spill.

Fanapi has brought the heaviest rains in a century to the southern province of Guangdong, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. Heavy rain triggered floods and landslides in Guangdong's Maoming City, where more than 8,000 people were evacuated, Xinhua said.


Zijin Mining halts tin mine after fatalities

Reuters

27 September 2010

HONG KONG - Chinese gold and copper miner Zijin Mining Group Co Ltd said on Monday that a tin mine in southern Guangdong province operated by a subsidiary had halted production after a number of fatalities at a nearby community following torrential rains.

The company said a leak in the mine's residue pool caused by heavy rains had flooded nearby villages, killing four villagers as of Sept. 25, and damaging houses and farms in Xinyi city.

The shutdown would cause a direct loss of 19 million yuan ($2.84 million) to Zijin, it said.

The tin mine was operating on trial production basis before the accident, which took place on Sept. 20-21, the company said in a statement, without giving details of the mine's production capacity.

Production at a Zijin copper mine in the southeastern province of Fujian has also been suspended after discharges from the mine polluted a river and reservoir in July. (Reporting by Polly Yam; Editing by Chris Lewis)


Fish die after tin mine tailings dam collapses

Xinhua

27 September 2010

More than 100 tonnes of dead farmed fish were found in a river in south China after a tin mine tailings dam collapsed in the upper reaches.

The fish were found dead in the fish farms in the Huanghua River basin in Cenxi City in Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region between September 23 and 26, the Cenxi city departments of animal husbandry and marine industries said in a statement on Sunday.

Huanghua River lies in the downstream of a tailings dam at the Xinyi Yinyan Tin Mine, owned by Zijin Mining Group Co. in Qianbai Township of Xinyi City in Guangxi's neighboring Guangdong Province.

The dam collapsed on September 21 after being hit by a landslide triggered by heavy rains caused by Typhoon Fanapi, leaving five dead, six missing and seven injured.

Environmental watchdogs in both Guangxi and Guangdong have set up a number of water quality test stations along the Huanghua River and Qianpai River in the wake of the dam collapse.

Latest environmental test results available show that water of the Huanghua River, which crosses Guangdong-Guangxi border, was clear of contamination as of Friday.

Tests were conducted on a regular basis, officials previously said.

No latest test results are immediately available.

A spokesman of a fish farm association in Guangxi said if Zijin was found responsible, fish farmers would urge the government to launch an investigation and seek compensation for them.

Zijin Mining Group Co., China's largest gold producer, was blamed for a massive fish kill in east China's Fujian Province in July after a copper plant owned by Zijin contaminated a local river.

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