Mines, Rivers, Fish

Examples of modern mines that damaged rivers and fisheries. By Mara Bacsjulaky, October 2004.

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Examples of Modern Mines that Damaged Rivers & Fisheries

(Compiled by Mara Bacsujlaky, October 2004)

The mines that are featured here are all mining operations whose main components were developed within the last 30 years, using “state-of-the-art”, modern hardrock mining technology. A few are located at places where previous mining had occurred (Summitville, Baia Mare, Molycorp). Unfortunately, the leakages and dam failures that caused both short and long term damage to aquatic resources are not examples of isolated, unusual accidents, but are common characteristics of hardrock mines with large tailings impoundments and dams. These accidents and/or chronic leaks differ only in level of severity and duration of impact to aquatic resources, and in some cases, public health. In all cases, contaminants from the hardrock mining process were the cause of pollution; additionally, in all examples cited here, the operations were subject to extensive engineering design and environmental review processes conducted by governmental bodies – both local and federal. Water pollution occurred both to ground and surface waters – and involved releases of either cyanide, heavy metals and acid generated from mine waste…