12/24/2014 12:35 EST | Updated 02/23/2015 05:59 EST

Bloom Lake hit with record environmental fine

A mining company has plead guilty to 45 charges under the fisheries act and will pay a $7.5-million fine for improperly releasing pollutants into fish-bearing waters.

Bloom Lake General Partner Ltd. has been ordered to pay the fine because the Triangle Tailings Pond dam breach in May 2011 and other environmental accidents over a period of 18 months, Environment Canada said Wednesday.

The iron ore mine is located southwest of Labrador City but is in Quebec. In one instance, more than 14,500 litres of ferric sulfate was dumped into water frequented by fish. "On a number of occasions," Environment Canada said in a release Wednesday, "the company did not inform the Department of releases, contrary to regulatory requirements and omitted to take samples and conduct analyses as required under the regulations."

Of the total fine, $6.83 million will be directed to a federal government fund that's aimed at making sure those who cause environmental damage or harm to wildlife take responsibility for their actions by supporting projects that benefit the environment. That's the biggest amount that a Canadian company has ever been ordered to contribute to that fund.

The mining operation was supposed to be expanding following a $5-billion deal in which the company changed hands. But earlier this year, the U.S.-based owner, Cliffs Natural Resources, cancelled those plans because of plunging commodity prices.