Aurizon Drops After Dam Breaks at Quebec Mine: Vancouver Mover

Aurizon Mines Ltd., the gold producer that agreed in March to be acquired by Hecla Mining Co., fell the most in more than four years after authorities reported a dam broke at the Casa Berardi mine in western Quebec, spilling thousands of liters of contaminated water.

Aurizon dropped 0.7 percent to C$4.23 in Toronto. The shares earlier plunged as much as 12 percent, the most intraday since December 2008, before they were halted.

About 150,000 cubic meters (40 million gallons) of liquid and 15,000 cubic meters (530,000 cubic feet) of solid material were spilled yesterday, Quebec’s Ministry of Environment said in a statement posted on its website.

While a breach of an internal tailings dam spilled liquids and “suspended solids,” most of the material was contained within the tailings-pond area, Aurizon said in a statement today.

“A residual film of material has affected a limited surface area of outside the external dyke,” the company said. Environmental authorities are on site and there won’t be any impact on operations, it said.

The spill is in an isolated region a few hundred kilometers south of James Bay, said Stephanie Lemieux, a ministry spokeswoman. The ministry was informed of the spill late yesterday and an investigation began today to determine the limits of the damage. There is a creek about 1 kilometer (0.6 mile) from the site of the leak that’s being assessed, she said.

Hecla said March 4 it agreed to buy Aurizon in a cash-and-stock bid with a current value of about C$500 million ($496 million) including debt, trumping an offer from Alamos Gold Inc.

Aurizon said March 25 that a contractor’s employee was killed in an accident underground at Casa Berardi.

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