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Rio Tinto targeted by an investigation by the Ministry of the Environment at its Lake Tio mine

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Mining exposes itself to criminal prosecution of $3,000 to $6 million for breaches of environmental law. (Archive photo)

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The Ministry of the Environment, the Fight against Climate Change, Wildlife and Parks has launched an investigation against the mining company Rio Tinto Iron and Titanium, for breaches of environmental law.

The investigation launched on February 3 concerns the Lake Tio mine, north of Havre-Saint-Pierre.

The ministry does not specify the nature of the breaches which are targeted, but indicates that the company is exposed to criminal proceedings, the penalties of which vary from $3,000 to $6 million.

Investigations in a case like the one in question can require delays of several months in order to compile technical and scientific evidence, explains the ministry's regional spokesperson, Sophie Gauthier, by email.

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Rio Tinto says it is taking measures to ensure that its wastewater discharges at the Lake Tio mine comply with standards. (Archive photo)

Rio Tinto declined Radio-Canada's interview request, but indicated by email that' she was not informed of this investigation or possible sanctions.

The mining company adds that measures have been put in place to ensure compliance with wastewater discharges. Rio Tinto says it has invested more than $10 million in recent years to identify and implement various solutions aimed at ensuring regulatory compliance of [its] effluent.

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The company cites as an example the installation in 2020 of a new capture and monitoring system water treatment. These improvement efforts continue, we can read in the email.

According to the ministry, Rio Tinto has already received an administrative sanction as a result of three notices of non-compliance in 2021. The ministry indicates that it will not issue additional comments.

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