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Heilongjiang mine leakage contained

By HOU LIQIANG | China Daily | Updated: 2020-03-31 09:40
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A leakage of mine tailings in Heilongjiang province has triggered an emergency response, and the country's top environmental watchdog has dispatched a team to guide the handling of the incident, according to a notice from the provincial government.

The notice said an overflow occurred at 1:40 pm Saturday at the tailings pond of a molybdenum mine belonging to Yichun Luming Mining Co. Part of the tailings entered the Yijimi River, a secondary tributary of the Songhua River.

Songhua empties into the Heilong River, or the Amur River as it is called in Russia.

A Grade 2 response, the second highest in the country's four-tier environmental emergency response system, was initiated at 9 pm Sunday, according to the notice.

The leakage of the tailings, which are waste created by the mining of ore, was brought under control on Sunday afternoon and resulted in no casualties, it said.

Photos from Xinhua News Agency show that a large area in Yijimi's watercourse has been covered by a thick, gray mud.

Considering the pollution risk, the government of Tieli city, where the mine is located, has suspended water supply from the city's top drinking water treatment plant, which takes water from the river.

The government has put into operation a water plant for emergency use to ensure that the water supply will not be interrupted, and it has started transferring water from another river, a media release from the provincial government said on Monday.

A micronutrient essential for life, silvery-white molybdenum can be toxic in large quantities.

The Ministry of Ecology and Environment said Vice-Minister Zhai Qing had arrived at the site to guide the handling of the incident. In addition, relevant government bodies of Heilongjiang have sent experts to the site and set up an emergency command.

The mine went into operation in mid-2014, and when a national inspection team visited it in July 2018 it was warned of the risk that its tailings pond may collapse due to water overflow.

The inspectors demanded the mine discharge some water in the pond to ensure safety, according to an investigation report on the Tieli government's website.

The mine has been fined at least twice for violations related to its tailings pond management, according to, a corporate information inquiry website.

It was fined 139,600 yuan ($19,700) on Aug 18, 2018, and 169,600 yuan five days later. In both cases, the mine had violated the country's regulations on tailings pond management.

Zhou Huiying contributed to this story.

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