Aurizon CEO Says Mine Spill Doesn’t Jeopardize Hecla Deal

Aurizon Mines Ltd. said the spill of mine waste at its Casa Berardi gold mine in western Quebec doesn’t jeopardize its C$670 million ($664 million) takeover by Hecla Mining Co.

The accident is a “minor” issue and operations at the mine haven’t been interrupted, Aurizon Chief Executive Officer George Paspalas said today in a telephone interview.

“We’ve categorically confirmed that there is no change in the situation,” said Paspalas, who’s traveling to the mine today. “The cleanup has begun.”

The company, which is based in Vancouver, said it was not aware of any further developments that would explain today’s decline in its shares in Toronto. Aurizon fell 12 percent to C$3.71 at the close, the most since Dec. 1, 2008.

The spill will have “no impact” on the Hecla deal, Paspalas said.

Hecla, based in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho, said March 4 it agreed to buy Aurizon in a cash-and-stock bid, trumping an offer from Toronto-based Alamos Gold Inc.

Officials from Quebec’s environmental regulator have suggested Aurizon clean up the spill using “shovels and rakes,” Paspalas said.

The ministry said today that Aurizon reduced its estimate of how much material was spilled in the May 1 accident to 55,000 cubic meters (40 million gallons) of liquids and 2,000 cubic meters of solids, Stephanie Lemieux, a ministry spokeswoman in Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec, said today by telephone.

Aurizon initially said 150,000 cubic meters of liquids and 15,000 cubic meters of solids escaped from the tailings pond, she said.

“We still don’t know the nature of the spill,” Lemieux said, adding that some of the liquids spilled into the nearby Kaakakosig river.

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