MiningWatch Canada is launching a private prosecution following a dam break at the open-pit copper-gold mine in August 2014.
Charges have been filed against Mount Polley Mining, a subsidiary of Imperial Metals (TSX:III), and the BC Government as a result of a mine waste accident in 2014.
The private prosecution, commenced by MiningWatch Canada on October 18, is alleging violations against sections 35(1) and 36(3) of the Fisheries Act when a dam broke at the open pit copper–gold mine.
At least 25 million cubic meters of toxic waste and materials gushed into three bodies of water not far from the Mount Polley mine, as reported by the Vancouver Sun.
MiningWatch, a non-profit organization, notes it is taking action now, because the Crown hasn’t file charges under the Fisheries Act.
“We are all concerned that almost 30 months later, despite clear evidence of impacts on waters, fish, and fish habitat, no sanctions and no penalties have been brought forward by any level of government,” Ugo Lapointe, Canada Program Coordinator for MiningWatch Canada, said in the release.
Lapointe added the negligence has sent “the wrong signal to the industry across the country and undermines public confidence in the capacity of our regulatory system to work effectively to protect our environment.”
MiningWatch Canada’s release stated the legal action is supported by a number of organizations, including West Coast Environmental Law Association-Environmental Dispute Resolution Fund, Amnesty International Canada, First Nations Women Advocating for Responsible Mining, and Concerned Citizens of Quesnel Lake.
If necessary, Lapointe said MiningWatch is prepared to take the action to a full trial, but will turn it over to the Federal Crown due to costs and expenses of carrying out a legal action against a mining company and the BC Government.
On Tuesday (October 25), the BC Government released an announcement inviting the public to comment on Mount Polley’s long-term water plan, details which can be read here.
Since MiningWatch’s announcement, shares of Imperial Metals have dropped 1.37 percent to $5.77.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Jocelyn Aspa, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.