Coal mining company fined millions after tailings pond leaks into Alberta river

A coal mining company has been handed a $3.5-million penalty for a 2013 spill from its tailings pond that fouled tributaries feeding the Athabasca River in Alberta.

An estimated 670 million litres of waste water gushed out of a broken earth berm at the Obed Mountain mine near Hinton, Alta., on Oct. 31, 2013.

The federal departments of Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada say Prairie Mines & Royalty ULC (formerly known as Coal Valley Resources) pleaded guilty Friday in Hinton provincial court to two counts of violating the Fisheries Act.

About $1.15 million of the penalty is to be put into a trust to be managed by the University of Alberta to create a fish habitat and recovery research fund.

The Environmental Damages Fund will be getting $2.15 million.