Zijin Mining Group Co. Ltd. (hereafter”Zijin”), is a Chinese gold, copper and non-ferrous metals producer and refiner of Mainland China . The predecessor of Zijing Mining Group, Shanghang County Mining Company, was founded on 15 July 1986 in Fujian Province. Zijin is mainly engaged in the exploration and mining of gold, copper, zinc and other mineral resources. Being a leading metal producer in China, the Group ranks the 1200th place in the Forbes Global 2000 in 2017, the 3rd place among the world’s public gold miners, and the 82th place in the Fortune China 500 in 2017. Listed in Hong Kong Stock Exchange (code: 2899) and Shanghai Stock Exchange (code: 601899), Zijin has developed an extensive product portfolio of gold, copper, lead and zinc, tungsten, iron ore and other base metals and invested in 24 provinces across China and 9 foreign countries. 
The Zijinshan Gold & Copper Mine is located in Shanghang County, covering an area of 30 km2, and is operated by 1900 staff. As the core mine of Zijin, it was discovered in the 1980s and became one of the largest porphyritic-type deposits in China. The deposit consists of two ore bodies: upper oxidized gold domain and lower copper domain in fresh rocks. The deposit type is described as porphyry related high-sulphidation epithermal Cu-Au deposit.  The rapid rise of Zijin Mining is proof of the potential for mining low-grade ore. Once, the Zijin gold mine was considered a hard and “tasteless” nut. In normal circumstances, one tonne of ore would need to contain three grams or more of gold before being considered for industrial ore mining. However, most of the ore from Zijin’s mine contains less than one gram of gold per tonne, making low-cost heap leaching the chosen solution. 
The quick growth of the firm – and in particular its soaring share price following the Shanghai flotation – made a fortune for the biggest shareholders including Shanghang county government and others; some local officials held shares in the company, or simply did well out of working for Zijin after leaving their government posts. Clearly, Zijin’s success has enabled a certain group of people to fill their pockets and if that has happened legally then all well and good – except for the fact that Zijin’s development has been accompanied by environmental failings. While a few benefitted from the company’s growth, the public, including the majority of Shanghang residents, had to pay the price in pollution terms. 
On July 3, 2010, a leak from a wastewater pond at Zijin Copper Mine sent about 9,100 cubic meters of acidic, copper-laden water into the Ting River, killing at least 2,000 tonnes of fish. The Shanghang County Government advanced some funds to purchase all the dead fish at a price of 6 yuan/500g so as to compensate the losses of the fish farmers, and then bury the dead fish deeply for harmless treatment.  However, it was only nine days later that either Zijin Mining or the county government – the protector of public interests and a major shareholder in the listed firm – made the accident public.  Later on July 20, the Department of Environmental Protection in Guangdong issued an urgent notice to their colleagues in Fujian that toxic waste from the leak at the Zijinshan Copper Mine had reached the lower reaches of the Tingjiang River in Guangdong. It was reported that the copper content in the Meizhou section of the river in Guangdong soared from 0.0135mg/L on July 15 to 0.0233mg/L the next day, posing a clear threat to the livelihoods of fish farmers in the area. Worse yet, the content remained on the rise over the weekend, the pollution "has exerted an explicit influence on the trans-provincial river section," the notice said, "and will pose big challenge to local fish farming." Authorities in Guangdong recommended that Fujian environmental protection officials appoint a liaison to oversee the elimination of the pollution, in addition to coordinating other efforts, such as information exchanges between the two provinces. 
This is not the first incident of Zijin. A report authored by the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE) and Civic Exchange identified Zijin among the 175 companies listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange with environmental-infraction records on the mainland. The report reveals that, from 2005, Zijin Mining Group has had a series of environmental violations and pollution incidents in Hebei, Xinjiang, and Guizhou, etc. According to many news accounts, there was another incident of pollution from Zijin’s tailings storage that had triggered a notice to local schools in Shanghang, especially to those students who were going to attend the college entrance examination: “Please don’t eat fish.” 
For a long time, local villages have not had usable water. “The water from the Ting River used to be delicious, but now we don’t dare to drink it”. Villagers with enough money buy clean drinking water like city people; others have to walk down a very long road every day to collect mountain water since the river water was heavily polluted. More and more people dare not eat anything from the river, suspecting it is as dangerous as taking poison. Villagers are also suffering from the ore residue in the air when it is windy. Apart from the pollution, Zijin Mining did not bring them anything: there had been no benefits for the villagers and gaining work at the company is not an easy task. At the same time, there are also many people who bought shares in Zijin Mining at the beginning of 1980s made some money and have moved away. High incidence of deaths after suffering from oesophageal cancer, lung cancer and stomach cancer also plunged many families into debt, while villagers state that there were almost no cancer patients in the village before the mining business started.  There are everyday complaints from villagers about the air and water pollution, but nothing had been done until the serious toxic waste disaster came.
Under intense media scrutiny, Zijin’s pollution record finally attracted attention, and the State Council dispatched a working group to investigate and supervise the firm. The company at first blamed heavy rains for the toxic spill, but later released preliminary findings of a government probe that found it had ignored warnings that the flow of waste water discharge at the mine was too high.  Investigators found the company had ignored a government warning in September 2009 that said repairs to an automatic water quality monitoring system were needed.  Zijin was ordered to shut down for rectification and to "enhance" leak prevention measures, and the company’s gold mine was cut down due to environmental considerations. The firm was also ordered to invest hundreds of millions of yuan in water-treatment equipment and provide a new source of drinking water for the people of Shanghang. On July 27, Zijin’s vice president and former head of the Zijin Copper Mine, Chen Jiahong, was detained by police on account of his involvement in the major pollution incident.  The firm was also instructed to pay compensation for the losses suffered by fisherman due to the wastewater leak, but it’s not clear if the damage done by the toxic waste leak to the environment was properly addressed. Local people were too scared to eat the fish there, but the results of official laboratory tests have “confirmed” that Ting River water is meeting standards since the beginning of August 2010. 
According to China Mining News in 2014, Zijin Mining had invested more than 1 billion yuan on rectification of environmental facilities after two continuous environmental incidents in Shanghang and tailings dam collapse in Guangdong in 2010. July 3rd became the “Date of Environment and Security” and July became the “Month of Security” in Zijin to remind themselves.