List of gold mining disasters

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This is a list of gold mining disasters resulting from dam failure, cyanide leaking into the environment and inappropriate toxic waste discharge related to gold mining using the gold cyanidation technique.

Year Mine Location Majority Owner Company Location Details
1971 Certej Mine Romania 1971 Certej dam failure: A dam failure resulted in the leak of 300,000 cubic metres of cyanide-contaminated flood Certeju de Sus, resulting in 89 deaths.
1984-2013 Ok Tedi Mine Papua New Guinea Broken Hill Proprietary Co. Australia Ok Tedi environmental disaster: Unrestricted waste discharges from the mine had strong effects on the environment and the 50,000 people who live downstream. Over 2 billion tons of untreated mining waste were thus discharged.
1984-2013 Summitville mine United States Galactic Resources Canada A Canadian-based company used gold cyanidation process to extract gold, resulted in 610,000 m³ of stored toxic water. Following the company's bankruptcy, the US government spent over $155 million to clean the site.
1995 Omai mine Guyana Omai Gold Mines (subsidiary of Cambior) Canada 3 million cubic metres of cyanide-tainted waste was spilled into the Omai river and then the Essequibo river following a dam failure.[1]
1996 Mt. Tapian Philippines Marcopper Mining Canada Marcopper mining disaster: A fracture of the drainage tunnel for a tailings pit led to discharge of toxic waste into Makulapnit-Boac river system, causing large-scale destruction of crops, burying one village with mud and requiring 20 other villages to be evacuated.
1998 Kumtor Gold Mine Kyrgyzstan Centerra Gold Canada A truck carrying 1,762 kg of sodium cyanide fell into the Barskaun River. An international independent group of experts studied the impact of the accident and concluded that no one was killed or poisoned as a result of the accident.[2]
2000 Baia Mare Romania Esmerelda Exploration Limited Australia 2000 Baia Mare cyanide spill: A dam failure resulted in the leak of 100,000 cubic metres of cyanide-contaminated water which spilled into the Someş and Tisza. Pollution flowed into Europe's second largest river, the Danube, and finally into the Black Sea, across six countries. Hungary asserted the spill killed 1,241 tonnes of fish in Hungary alone.[3]
2000 Tolukuma gold mine Papua New Guinea Dome Resources Australia An one-tonne cyanide crate fell from a helicopter into the jungle, while heavy rain in the area washed 100–150 kg of it into a river.[4]
2009 Ahafo gold mine Ghana Newmont Mining USA Overflow of process solution containing sodium cyanide occurred within the processing plant site at Newmont Ghana's open pit Ahafo Mine. This resulted in water contamination and fish mortality.[5]
2014 Mount Polley mine, British Columbia Canada Imperial Metals Canada Mount Polley mine disaster: A tailing pond breach at Imperial Metals Corp's open-pit mine resulted in 10m cubic meters of water and 4.5m cubic meters of toxic slurry being spilled[6]
2015 Veladero mine, San Juan province Argentina Barrick Gold Canada 1,072 cubic meters of cyanide solution reached the Potrerillos River due to a valve failure.[7]


  1. ^ "Cyanide from mine threatens Guyana river", The Independent, August 23, 1995
  2. ^ "The International Scientific Commission's Assessment of the Impact of the Cyanide Spill at Barskaun, Kyrgyz Republic, May 20, 1988" (PDF). 1988. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 4, 2016. Retrieved 2015-05-29.
  3. ^ "Hungary to sue Australian company over cyanide spill". ABC. 2000-07-11. Retrieved 2014-12-21.
  4. ^ "Cyanide seeps into PNG rivers", BBC, March 23, 2000
  5. ^ "Newmont Gold Mine to Pay Ghana Millions for Cyanide Spill". Environment News Service. 2010-01-22. Retrieved 2014-12-21.
  6. ^ "Mount Polley mine spill: a hazard of Canada's industry-friendly attitude?", The Guardian, August 13, 2014
  7. ^ "Barrick's cyanide spill five times larger". Buenos Aires Herald. 2015-09-24. Retrieved 2015-09-24.

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