Major spill at Imperial Metals mine in Canada

Tue Aug 5, 2014 8:54am EDT
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Aug 5 (Reuters) - A tailings pond has broken open at Imperial Metals Corp's Mount Polley copper and gold mine in central British Columbia, spilling waste into nearby waterways, the regional government said in a release on Monday.

The Cariboo Regional District has advised nearby residents to use bottled water until further notice.

In a separate release on Monday evening, Imperial acknowledged the breach and said an undetermined amount of water and tailings had been released early that day. It said the cause of the breach was unknown, and promised further updates.

The main flow of waste went into a nearby creek, a four-foot stream that is now 150 feet wide, said the Cariboo Regional District. One road has been washed out.

Helicopter footage posted by the district on Monday showed an expanse of gray sludge outside the tailings pond, heaps of uprooted trees and liquid churning out of the massive pond.

Tailings are the waste left over after ore from a mine has been processed to remove valuable metals. What they contain varies between mines and treatment methods. (Reporting by Allison Martell; Editing by Nick Zieminski)