A River Ruined

CHINA, Fujian Province, July 17, 2010 - A toxic pollution spill from a mine operated by China's top gold producer, Zijin Mining Group Co., has killed over 1900 tons of fish in and around the Ting River here.

The river was poisoned by the company's nearby copper mine. Zijin representatives initially disavowed any responsibility, blaming the spill instead on torrential rains, but three days after their statement, police detained three Zijin employees in connection with the incident. The authorities in Fujian acted against company officials after mounting complaints by local residents that something was killing fish.

China's waterways have been devastated by the country's rapid industrial development. 

Like a wide belt of southeastern China, the mountainous region where Zijin is based sits on thick veins of gold and copper and has been pounded for weeks by seasonal rains. The Ting River that runs through the area feeds a major reservoir, a crucial link in a multiprovince water-management system that is now tainted with dead fish.

In a statement, Zijin expressed regret for the fish deaths and "certain economic loss," but said water "usage" downstream remains unaffected.


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