Argentina to fine Barrick Gold $9m for cyanide spill at Veladero mine

13 March 2016 (Last Updated March 13th, 2016 18:30)

The Government of San Juan province in Argentina has announced that it intends to fine Barrick Gold $9m in connection with cyanide spill at the Veladero mine in September 2015.

The Government of San Juan province in Argentina has announced that it intends to fine Barrick Gold $9m in connection with cyanide spill at the Veladero mine in September 2015.

On 13 September 2015, the mine detected a faulty valve on a pipe carrying processing solution at its heap leach pad.

Due to the valve failure, a solution comprising fresh water and diluted cyanide was released into the Potrerillos River.

Immediately, the company notified the authorities and local stakeholders about the incident and intensified its water monitoring activities in the river system downstream from the mine.

Barrick Gold president Kelvin Dushnisky said: "The safety of our employees, local communities and the environment has always been, and will continue to be, our highest priority.

"Following the incident last September, we implemented a comprehensive action plan to strengthen controls and safeguards at the mine, while addressing the root causes of the solution release.

"These actions include intensified water monitoring, the addition of heating controls and pressure sensing equipment to manage freezing risks, new procedures related to leach pad operations and additional water management controls."

"The safety of our employees, local communities and the environment has always been, and will continue to be, our highest priority."

Following the incident, water samples were collected to demonstrate that the release of cyanide did not pose any risks to the health of communities or the environment downstream from the Veladero mine.

Barrick said that the results are consistent with studies ordered by federal and provincial regulators and the provincial court.

The studies were also conducted by the National Institute of Water (INA), the National University of San Juan (UNSJ) and the Center for Investigations for the Prevention of Mining and Industrial Contamination (Cipcami).

In 2015, the Veladero mine produced 602,000oz of gold at all-in sustaining costs of $946 per ounce.