MAC: Mines and Communities

Three recent court cases give the lie to "best practice"

Published by MAC on 2002-11-22

Three recent court cases give the lie to "best practice"

A major new court case in Spain, and recent violations of "best practice'" by two major mining companies show that "best practice" is still just a rhetorical device for much of the industry

Ninety million dollar suit registered against Boliden

Reuters, November 22, 2002

SPAIN: Andalusia's regional government is suing Swedish-Canadian mining company Boliden Ltd. for 89.8-million euros (US$89.9 million) seeking reimbursement for damages and cleanup costs for the 1998 Aznalcollar toxic spill. Nearly seven million cubic metres of toxic sludge and zinc, copper, manganese and cadmium-contaminated water burst from the tailings dam of the Los Frailes mine in Aznalcollar into a river near the Donana National Park, one of Europe's largest nature reserves. The park, inhabited by numerous rare species, serves as an important migratory stopping point for endangered birds. The civil suit comes after a criminal court ruled that 25 people in the case were not criminally responsible. In September, Boliden said it was taking Spanish construction group Dragados to court for 107 million euros (US$107 million) for its role in the disaster.

INCO Limited Fined $5,000 for Discharge from Garson Mine

Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Press Release, December 2 2002

INCO Limited has been fined $5,000 for discharging effluent with elevated pH levels into Junction Creek from the Garson Mine in Sudbury.

The court was told that the effluent discharge occurred between March 12 and 14, 2000. INCO Limited pleaded guilty to one charge under section 18(3) of Regulation 560/94, made under the Environmental Protection Act, involving discharging effluent with pH levels exceeding allowable limits.

The case was heard on October 21, 2002 by Judge W. Fitzgerald in the Ontario Court of Justice at Sudbury. A victim fine surcharge was added to the fine.

Whitehorse Star, November 1, 2002

CANADA: A Canadian territorial court has fined Placer mining subsidiary, Caley's Dream, Inc., $1,000 for a diesel fuel spill into the Yukon River, Fisheries, and Ocean. Under Canada's Fisheries Act, it is an offence to deposit a deleterious substance into fish-bearing waters. In May 2000, a member of the public notified the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) that habitat had been disturbed in the Yukon River, downstream from the confluence of Sparkling Creek. An investigation by DFO officers determined that a 9,000-litre (2,000-gallon) fuel tank, which had been left on the shoreline of the Yukon River, was overturned by ice during the spring break-up. About 6,750 litres of diesel fuel leaked out of the tank into the river and onto the shoreline. In addition to the $1,000-fine, Caley's Dream, Inc., was ordered to clean up the site; the company will have eight months to clean up under fuel-spill guidelines from Environment Canada.

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