Zijin Mining: Toxic spill contaminates river; higher rates of cancer

In July 2010 an estimated 9,100 cubic meters of acid copper solution flooded from Zijin Mining´s Zijinshan Gold and Copper Mine into the Tingjiang River in Fujian province. The toxic water polluted the river, killing approximately 1.98 million kilograms of fish (enough to feed 72,000 residents for a year) and polluted the drinking water of 210,000 people in a nearby city1. The toxic water reached Guangdong province, threatening fish farming in the area.

After nine days the company finally reported the spill, claiming the cause to be heavy rains. Moreover, the company was accused of bribing journalists not to report the spill2.

A second leakage from the mine occurred a few weeks later3.

The leaks were found to be due to poor maintenance and negligence4 and Fujian Province fined the chairman of Zijin Mining Group, Chen Jinghe, and vice president Zou Laichang a combined sum of approx. €140,000 for the two waste spills in July5.

In May 2011, the Company was ordered to pay €3.5 million for the damage caused by the two July spills6. Despite a court ruling to clear the pollution7, months later the water of the Tingjiang River was still contaminated to the degree that people in contact with it got blisters. It was unsafe to drink and fish and wildlife were severely impacted8. A related issue is the increase in incidences of cancer in villages closest to the mine area. The area has a tenfold higher cancer rate than the China average9.


  1. Bloomberg News (2010): Zijin Closes Copper Smelter at Zijinshan that Polluted River, Shares Fall (accessed 26.08.2014) []
  2. Meidong, H. (2010): Zijin Group admits vain attempt to bribe; China Daily, 28 August: (accessed 26.08.2014) []
  3. Ibid. []
  4. Wei, T. and XinXing, Z. (2010): Seweage leakage kills slew of fish; Paragon Waters, 13 July (accessed 13.10.2014)  []
  5. Sun, H. (2010): Zijin Mining officials fines 1.16 million yaun for waste spills in Fujian; Bloomberg, 28 December (accessed 13.10.2014)  []
  6. Kurtenbach, E. (2011): China’s Zijin Mining fined $4.6M for toxic spill; Businessweek, 4 May (accessed 26.08.2014) []
  7. Hornby, L. (2010): China’s Zijin fined $1.4 million for toxic leaks; Reuters, 7 October (accessed 26.08.2014) []
  8. Chuanmin, Y. (2011): Toxic mine spill was only latest in long history of Chinese pollution; The Guardian, 14 April (accessed 26.08.2014) []
  9. Ibid. []
Case location
Tingjiang River, Changting, Longyan, China
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Affected topics
  • Environmental and Climate protection
Affected norms and standards Directly and indirectly (through shareholding) involved companies Indirect investors through shareholding

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