Cambior lawsuit (re Omai Gold mine, filed in Canada)
Snapshot: In 1997 a public interest group filed a class action lawsuit against Cambior in Canadian court after their tailing dam at the Omai Mine in Guyana failed, spilling tailings containing cyanide and heavy metals into the water supply which affected about 23,000 people. In 1998, the Court dismissed the case arguing that Guyanan courts were in a better position to hear the case.
In August 1995, the tailings dam at the Omai Mine in Guyana failed, spilling mine tailings containing cyanide, heavy metals and other pollutants into the Essequibo River. About 23,000 people live in the region surrounding the river, and they rely on the river for drinking water, bathing and fishing. A public interest group filed a class action lawsuit against Cambior in 1997 in Québec Superior Court seeking damages on behalf of the Guyanese victims of the spill. The Omai Mine is wholly owned by Omai Gold Mines Limited (OGML). At the time of the spill, Cambior owned 65% of this company and the balance was owned by Golden Star Resources and the Government of Guyana. In 2002, Cambior acquired Golden Star’s interest in OGML, thereby obtaining a 95% ownership interest in the company.
The Québec Superior Court dismissed the case in August 1998, on the grounds that the courts in Guyana were in a better position to hear the case.
- [DOC] “Global Mining Update: Quebec Court Decides to Dismiss Proceedings, Tailings Dam Collapse to be Litgated in Guyana”, Stikeman Elliott, Apr 1999
- “Coming Home to Roost”, Philip Preville, Montreal Mirror, 27 Mar 1997
- “Cyanide From Mine Threatens Guyana River”, Phil Davison, Independent [UK], 23 Aug 1995
- “Cambior Secures Dismissal of Omai-Related Class Action”, 17 Aug 1998