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Wednesday, 28 October, 2020
Home BUSINESSKittilä gold mine to drain water 1 more month
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Sun, 01 Nov, 2015 12:04:58 AM
Ely Centre to investigate on Wednesday
FTimes – STT Report, Nov 1
 
Agnico Eagle's Kittila gold mine pictured in Kittila, Finland. File Photo – Lehtikuva.
The Kittilä gold mine will continue pumping its extra wastewater into the Seurujoki for 3-4 weeks more, estimated Mikko Korteniemi, the chief operations officer of the mining company.
 
The situation in the Kittilä gold mine turned serious following leakage in the tailing pond of the mine.  The pumping has already lasted a week.
 
“The [pumping] will continue until we get the water at the level where we can take remedial measures,” said Korteniemi.
 
On Friday evening, the mine also began pumping water into a new water storage tank.
 
The wastewater dam fracture threat has been exaggerated, said Kortiniemi. 
 
According to him, the dam’s safety is not at risk.
 
There have been two wastewater leaks this autumn, and their causes are as yet unknown. According to Kortiniemi, experts are exploring the possibilities, and the mine is waiting for documents and repair proposals at the end of next week.
 
The Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY Centres), the regulatory authority, will inspect the facility next Wednesday. The gold mine is run by Agnico Eagle Finland, a subsidiary of the Canadian company Agnico Eagle Mines Limited.
 
Mining permit regulations in the future may need to be tightened as a precaution against disruptions, said Tapio Määttä, a professor of environmental law at the University of Eastern-Finland.
 
According to Määttä, the failure is not due to current legislation but how seriously mining firms take the environmental impacts of their operations.
 
He stressed that a mining company is the only party that fully knows what the structural safety levels of its wastewater pools or dams are, and whether the structures can withstand a greater than anticipated accumulation of water.
 
“In principle, the responsibility is always on the mine operator. The problems here raise the appropriate question of whether financial interests are in the wrong place,” said Määttä.
The basic problems at Kittilä and Talvivaara are similar, though on a different scale.
 
“There has to be water stored in mining areas, some of which is quite clean, while some is polluted during the process, water that cannot be returned to the environment without treatment. Storage is, therefore, a major issue,” the professor added.
 
He said in order to keep pace with permitted contaminant concentration limit values, water cannot be siphoned out of the mining area at the same rate it gathers.
 
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