31 March 2020
The Luming Mine tailings accident in China
Unfortunately another significant tailings accident occurred on 28 March 2020, this time at the Luming Mine in Heilongjiang Province in NE China (location: 47.361, 128.559). The release was reported on Xinhua News – which is in itself interesting because there is a perception that previous tailings accidents might have been covered up. The report indicates that it was an unintended tailings release rather than a complete tailings dam failure.
Planet Labs have captured decent imagery of the event. Below is an image collected on 25 March 2020, prior to the accident. The image shows the two tailings dams and the tailings store behind:-
The second image below shows the aftermath of the tailings release. This image, collected by Planet Labs on 29 March 2020, shows the result of the release of tailings at Luming Mine. The release appears to have originated from the northern abutment of the southern tailings dam. There is a significant volume of waste located in the channel below the facilities.
The tailings dam itself appears to be intact, but there is a marked change in the texture of the tailings that are retained (which is not the case behind the other dam), presumably resulting from the rapid dewatering that has occurred as a result of the leakage. I have no information as to whether the integrity of the structure is compromised or whether the leak continues.
Luming Mine is operated by the China Railway Group. It started trial production in 2014, and has the potential to extract up to 45,000 tonnes of molybdenum ore per day.
Planet Team (2019). Planet Application Program Interface: In Space for Life on Earth. San Francisco, CA. https://www.planet.com/