Tailings pond spill: What happens to effluent over time (CBCNews)
Tailings — the slurry of water, finely ground rock, ore and chemical byproducts washed away during the mining process — never quite go away. The same goes for the risk of failure for even the best-engineered "tailings impoundment" dams, environmental experts say.
A sobering reminder came in the form of an environmental catastrophe this week in B.C. when the tailings pond overseen by Imperial Metals breached, spilling five million cubic metres of effluent into the Quesnel-Cariboo river system.
Asked by CBC's Chris Hall how long it might take to eventually restore affected areas to their natural state, Ramsey Hart of MiningWatch Canada gave a grim assessment.
"I don't think it will ever entirely be cleaned up," said Hart, who researches mining issues, including waste management, the impacts of mining on aquatic ecosystems, and mining and indigenous rights.
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