Leak at Zijin plant kills tonnes of fish

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 July, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 July, 2010, 12:00am

A toxic chemical leak by the mainland's largest gold producer has killed or poisoned about 2,290 tonnes of fish in a Fujian reservoir, prompting the company, Zijin Mining Group, to suspend trading in its stock yesterday in Hong Kong.

The Xiamen firm said a 'sudden leakage' of waste water containing acidic copper had entered the Ting River. Stockpiling of additional ore at the Zijinshan Copper Mine hydro-metallurgical plant has been suspended, which 'has had a substantial effect on the copper production' at the plant.

The company has applied to resume trading today.

Company employees discovered that a waste reservoir at the Zijinshan mine in Shanghang city was leaking at around 3.30pm on July 3, according to a statement on the Fujian province Department of Environmental Protection website. About 9,100 cubic metres of waste water containing copper and sulphuric acid ions leaked into the river.

Preliminary estimates put the amount of poisoned or dead fish in the Mianhuatan Reservoir Area near Zijin's Zijinshan mine at 3.78 million catties, or 2,290 tonnes, Xinhua reported. The mine is about 180km west-northwest of Xiamen.

'The cause of the incident has been found: the impermeable membrane of the reservoir has broken in various locations, resulting in leakage,' the environmental protection department said.

Zijin said heavy rainfall in Fujian increased the water in the reservoir, which 'gave rise to a cutting effect and tore the waterproofing layer in many places ...'

The department said Zijin had taken emergency measures to stem the leakage, which was under control by July 4. 'Currently, the water quality of the river has continued to improve and residential water supply to counties and towns along the river has not been affected,' it said.