UPDATE 2-Aurizon says Quebec gold tailings spill is minor

Thu May 2, 2013 6:54pm EDT
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* Miner says it does not expect operations to be affected

* Company says majority of spill stayed in containment area

* Regulators say some liquid escaped into the environment

* Makeup of spilled material not known (Adds comments, detail from Quebec government spokeswoman)

May 2 (Reuters) - Aurizon Mines Ltd said on Thursday there had been a "minor discharge" at its Casa Berardi gold mine's tailings facility in Quebec.

Aurizon said most of the spilled material, discovered during an inspection on Wednesday evening, had remained inside a containment area, and that it did not expect any impact on operations.

But Stéphanie Lemieux, a spokeswoman with Quebec's Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment, Wildlife and Parks, said the spill was a "category two" incident.

Environmental emergencies in Quebec are classified as category one, two, or three, where three is the most serious.

"The solid tailings were almost entirely confined between two dams," said Lemieux. "But the external dam could not contain all the liquid waste, and part of it spilled to the environment."   Continued...