A big Nevada mining company will pay federal fines following a ruling from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The EPA found that three subsidiaries of Barrick Gold Corp. failed to correctly report toxic chemical releases and waste management activities at the company's Cortez, Ruby Hill and Bald Mountain mines in Northern Nevada between 2005 and 2008.
The EPA's statement said the violations involved paperwork and recordkeeping, and did not indicate that actual toxin releases were the problem.
The subsidiaries settled with the EPA, and will pay a combined $278,000 in fines. They also must spend $340,000 on a supplemental environmental project at Cortez to identify metal compounds formed in its oxide-mill process. Plus, Barrick will audit its other U.S. mines, which are in Nevada and Montana, correct any additional reporting violations and pay a $10,000 fine per violation, or a maximum of $250,000.
Potential toxins at issue are cyanide, lead and mercury. The EPA said in a statement that the violations did not pose immediate danger to mine workers or residents of surrounding communities.
Metal-ore mining makes up 98 percent of toxic releases reported to the EPA. The agency said its investigation of Barrick is part of a continuing national effort launched in 2008 to ensure that operators of gold mines comply with federal reporting laws.
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