A three-year investigation by Environment Canada into an American mining company operating in Quebec has ended in a $7.5 million fine, the largest in Canadian history.

Bloom Lake General Partner Limited, a subsidiary of Cleveland-based Cliffs Natural Resources, pleaded guilty on Dec. 22 to 45 charges related to violations of the Fisheries Act. The charges included the release of mining effluent and other pollutants into fish-bearing water. The investigation report cited several major incidents, including the release of 14,500 litres of ferric sulfate into waterways. Another major incident at the Triangle Tailings Pond Dam allowed pollutants to leak into the environment for seven days before a breach was repaired.

The company had been directed to take measures to improve their environmental impact in 2010, but the investigation showed that they had failed to do so.

“Inspectors’ directions are still in force at the mining site, and the company is required to take all necessary steps to prevent further occurrences of releases of substances toxic to fish into fish-bearing water,” an Environment Canada spokesperson said.

The majority of the fine — $6.83 million — will be allocated to the Environmental Damages Fund.

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