New toxic spill reported at Mexican copper mine

New toxic spill reported at Mexican copper mine

Spill (aerial taken Sunday, Sep. 21). Credit: Twitter | @Noti_SONORA

Mexican authorities have issued a new alert about a toxic spill into a river from Buenavista del Cobre copper mine, the same operation that contaminated the water supplies of at least 24,000 people last month.

Mining giant Grupo Mexico (BMV:GMEXICOB) said in a statement late Sunday the new leak was the product of heavy rains caused by Hurricane Odile, which hit the northwestern state of Sonora during the weekend, local paper El Proceso reports (in Spanish).

Acid levels in the Bacanuchi and Sonora rivers, however, are back to normal, according to the newspaper.

The mine, located only about 40 km from the U.S. border, was forced to partially idle activities earlier this month, as Mexico's environmental prosecutor Profepa said Grupo Mexico failed to abide by applicable rules, incurring in "highly risky activities."

New toxic spill reported at Mexican copper mine

Spill (aerial taken Sunday, Sep. 21). Credit: Twitter | @Noti_SONORA

So far the company has been charged with more than $3 million in fines, reason why it has set up a $150 million trust to pay them. Grupo Mexico claims it has also been conducting a major clean-up operation in the area.

Top mining state

Sonora is home to more than a quarter of Mexico's mining industry and leads in gold, copper and graphite production.

Mexico's federal government recently opened up the country's vital energy sectors such as electricity generation and oil production to private companies.

In 2009 an American subsidiary of Grupo Mexico, Asarco, paid the U.S. government a record $1.79 billion to settle hazardous waste pollution in 19 states.