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Tailings Dam Overflow Contained By Chinese Authorities

HARBIN, China

The 28 March overflow of a Molybdenum mine tailings dam in China's north east Heilongjiang Province has been curtailed, after the second highest level of environmental emergency response in China had been triggered, but contaminated water has been detected up to 110 km downstream, environmental authorities in the province said 1 April.

A senior government environmental team was sent to the site to guide local officials in the management of the incident, and no casualties have been reported.

The tailings seeped into nearby Yijimi River, and according to China Daily, covered parts of the river in “thick, gray mud”. Ultimately, the Yajimi flows into the Songjua (Amur River) in Russia.

Xinhua reported that nearly 1,200 people had been mobilized to assist local authorities in the containment effort and measures including installation of interception dams and spreading flocculant and activated carbon to secure safe drinking water for local residents.

The government of Tieli city, where the mine is located, suspended water supply from the Yajimi River and switched to an emergency water treatment facility and an alternate river supply.

It has further been reported that a July 2018 inspection warned of the risk of a dam collapse due to water overflow. At that time, some water was discharged and the mine was subsequently fined about $45,000 USD for environmental regulation violations.

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