AngloGold Toxic Mine-Waste Spill Affects Mile of Vaal Tributary

AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. said toxic waste it spilled last week affected 1.6 kilometers (1 mile) of a tributary of South Africa’s Vaal River in at least the second leak from its Mine Waste Solutions unit in the past five months.

“We appointed a response team, which included internal and third-party specialists, to closely monitor and mitigate the impact,” Africa’s largest gold producer said today by e-mail. “Operations were immediately halted, containment walls constructed, and all bolts in the critical sections of the pipelines replaced and welded.”

The leak into the Koekemoer Spruit tributary, about 160 kilometers southwest of Johannesburg, is in the same area as toxic waste spill at Hartebeestfontein in April.

AngloGold bought MWS last year for $335 million from First Uranium Corp. as it sought to increase the amount of gold and uranium it recovers from mine waste. The company, which operates in 10 countries, was responsible for 15 environmental incidents it classified as “significant” in 2012, with seven related to MWS in South Africa, according to last year’s annual report.

The company is still investigating the content of the toxic waste leak into Koekemoer Spruit on Aug. 27, AngloGold said. The pollutants “could be detrimental to flora and fauna but not to human life,” company spokesman Alan Fine said on Aug. 30.

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