(Adds quote from prosecutor, environment minister, background)
MEXICO CITY Aug 26 Mexican metals miner and
railroad operator Grupo Mexico could face a bill running into
billions of pesos to clean up a toxic spill that could prove to
be the country's worst mining disaster in modern times, the
government said on Tuesday.
Grupo Mexico could face an initial fine of 40
million pesos ($3.05 million) over the spill into a river near
the Buenavista copper mine in the northern state of Sonora,
Mexico's environmental prosecutor Guillermo Haro said.
The company is in the midst of a $3.4 billion expansion
project at the mine, which was formerly known as Cananea and has
the largest proven copper reserves in the world. The expansion
aims to boost production capacity to 1.3 million tonnes by 2017.
Haro's office says Grupo Mexico pumped 40,000 cubic meters
of toxic mining acid into the Bacanuchi river. It said the clean
up of the spill "could run into hundreds of millions or even
billions of pesos".
Shares in Grupo Mexico rose 1.24 percent on Tuesday at 47.21
pesos per share following news of the scale of the potential
The spill could be "the worst environmental disaster in the
country's mining industry in modern times," Environment Minister
Juan Jose Guerra told reporters.
Last week, Mexico's Congress urged the government to cancel
Grupo Mexico's concession to operate the mine.
(1 US dollar = 13.1063 Mexican peso)
(Reporting by Tomas Sarmiento; Writing by David Alire Garcia;
Editing by Simon Gardner and Andrew Hay)