Miners are always exposed to various dangers as they work through their daily shifts, with one threat in the form of accidents waiting to happen at any time. One of the most recent mining accidents happened at the Cieneguita gold-silver mine in northern Mexico earlier this month. Reports have started pouring in, and people are starting to see the extent of the losses in the mine.
A dam in the Cieneguita mine, which contained the mineral tailings, collapsed on the morning of June 4. The heavy tailings swept away miners who were working at the mine at the time. Aside from that, several types of machinery and vehicles sustained heavy damage from the breach. The dam is located in Urique, Chihuahua, and Minera Rio Tinto and Pan American Goldfields oversee the mining operations in the site.
The most recent development with regards to the rescue process states that the Civil Defense officers have recovered a fifth body from the mine site, Mining.com reported. As of this writing, the recovery team is still yet to rescue two more miners. Aside from this, several workers suffered from injuries and were sent to hospitals. On the other hand, two workers were rescued immediately after the accident.
When the area was safe, 150 people were deployed for the search-and-rescue operations. It ran through 26 kilometers along the Cañitas creek in the proximity of the mine. The water in the creek now possesses a distinct white color, which is caused by the effluent from the mining accident. The mine site did not use sodium cyanide during its operations, so only heavy metals are expected to run through the river, meaning it would be easier to clean.
According to a local publication, the dam breach released 249,000 cubic meters of tailings and 190,000 cubic meters of construction materials. No official report on the damages to the local marine and wildlife has been released yet, but there might be no major implications if the mining operators didn’t use any harmful chemicals. Environmental agency Profepa and national water authority Conagua even stated that even with the tailings in the river, this does not bring any risk.
Regardless of what the tailings contain, the local governing body and the mining operator should move fast to clean up what’s left of the accident. Mine tailings could have various environmental impacts that grow worse over time. Studies have revealed that a pileup of tailings can cause landslides.
The major concern regarding tailings are the particles in them. They can spread through the air and water and can cause health complications to both humans and wildlife.
After the accident, many are expecting Minera Rio Tinto and Pan American Goldfields to take full responsibility for what happened. For now, both companies have yet to release a clear statement on their next course of action.
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