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Copper Mesa Mining lawsuit (re Ecuador)

In March 2009, members of the Junín community in Ecuador filed suit in Canada against Copper Mesa Mining, its two directors and the Toronto Stock Exchange, alleging that they suffered injuries, death threats and other intimidation by private security forces hired by the mining company. In March 2011, the Ontario Court of Appeal dismissed the case, ruling that the plaintiffs had failed to plead the material facts necessary to link the defendants with the alleged abuse.

Open pit copper mine - photo by Cristian BortesPara la versión en español de este perfil de las demandas judiciales, haga clic acá.

On 3 March 2009, members of the Junín community in Ecuador filed a lawsuit in Canada against Copper Mesa Mining (formerly Ascendant Copper), its two directors and the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX), alleging that they suffered injuries, death threats and other intimidation by private security forces hired by Copper Mesa.  The plaintiffs sought to recover damages of over C$1 billion.  Copper Mesa acquired concession rights for an open-pit mine in the Junín region of Ecuador in July 2004.  The plaintiffs publicly opposed this mine and claim that, due to their opposition, private security forces and others paid by Copper Mesa carried out a campaign of intimidation and death threats against them.  The plaintiffs charge that on 2 December 2006, private security forces hired by Copper Mesa clashed with protesters from the Junín community, injuring the plaintiffs.  They also alleged that by listing Copper Mesa on the stock exchange and thereby providing the company with access to funding, the TSX was complicit in the abuses against the plaintiffs.

In March 2010, all of the defendants filed motions to dismiss the suit, claiming that the plaintiffs failed to disclose a reasonable cause of action (i.e., failed to make a valid legal claim).  On 7 May 2010, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice dismissed the lawsuit.  The plaintiffs appealed the decision.  On 11 March 2011, the Ontario Court of Appeal affirmed the lower court’s dismissal.  The court ruled that the plaintiffs had failed to plead the material facts necessary to link the defendants with the abuses alleged.

- “Ecuadorians in Court over Canadian Mine”, CBC News, 25 Mar 2010
- “Copper Mesa sued for alleged assault”, Brett Popplewell, The Star, 22 Nov 2009
- “Toronto Stock Exchange caught in $1 billion lawsuit”, Christopher Olson, Link [Canada], 10 Mar 2009
- “Canadian Mining Firm Financed Violence in Ecuador: Lawsuit”, Jennifer Moore, The Tyee, 3 Mar 2009
- [video] “A Canadian mine – leads to conflict”, The Star, 20 Nov 2009
- “Ascendant Copper Agrees to Curtail Activities in Ecuador”, MiningWatch Canada, 30 Mar 2007

- TMX [TSX parent company]: “TSX Delisting Review - Copper Mesa Mining Corporation (CUX)”, 19 Jan 2010 [press release]
- Klippensteins Barristers & Solicitors [counsel for the plaintiffs]: Ecuadorians Lose Appeal in Lawsuit Against Canadian Mining Company and TSX: Canadian law  continues to fail communities harmed by Canadian mining overseas, 30 Apr 2011
- Klippensteins Barristers & Solicitors: Ramirez v. Copper Mesa

- Court of Appeal for Ontario: [PDF] Ramirez v. Copper Mesa - judgment, 11 Mar 2011
- Ramirez v. Copper Mesa, Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Canada:
  - [PDF] Plaintiffs’ Responding Factum to TSX Defendants Motion to Strike, 12 Mar 2010
  - [PDF] Plaintiffs’ Responding Factum to Copper Mesa Defendants Motion to Strike, 12 Mar 2010
  - [PDF] [Plaintiffs’] Statement of Claim, 3 Mar 2009

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13 December 2016

Ecuador to pay $24 million to Canadian mining company for cancelling permit for human rights reasons without due process

Author: Matthew Levine, International Institute for Sustainable Development

"Ecuador ordered by PCA tribunal to pay $24 million to Canadian mining company", 12 Dec 2016

A tribunal under the auspices of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) constituted under the Canada–Ecuador Agreement...ordered Ecuador to compensate a Canadian company for expropriation of two mineral concessions...[A]n increasing number of local residents concerned about the deleterious impacts of mining organized to resist the activity...Ecuador’s Constituent Assembly passed legislation...which...provided for the termination “without economic compensation” of mining concessions...Ecuador’s Under-Secretary of Mines ordered the termination of the Junín and Chaucha concessions due to a lack of prior consultation with the local residents...[T]he tribunal indicated..that Ecuador had not made a single complaint as regards...human rights to the claimant prior to the commencement of arbitration.  For the tribunal, it was then much too late...With regards to expropriation, Ecuador contended that the Mining Mandate was a measure issued by the state in exercise of its legitimate regulatory authority and responding to a compelling public policy consideration, that is, the need to consult the affected local population, and seeking to address many unsolved social, economic and environmental issues...[T]he tribunal decided that they were “...these Resolutions were made...without due process,”...


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9 December 2014

Canadian courts increasingly used in litigation to hold companies accountable for human rights abuse abroad, says law firm

Author: H. Scott Fairley & Anastasija Sumakova, WeirFoulds LLP

Canada: Tort Liability At Home For Alleged Wrongs Abroad: The Common Law Goes Extraterritorial?, 2 Dec 2014

…[S]everal recent decisions [in Canada] suggest a new type of extraterritorial tort liability for alleged violations of international human rights in foreign jurisdictions to which Canadian companies…may be exposed…The fact that many of these companies are either based in or have asset-based connections to Canada also suggests that Canadian courts may become a centre for litigation of this kind…What remains to be resolved [for] particular cases such as Hudbay and Tahoe is what legal effect customary international norms have once they are incorporated into domestic law…[I]t remains to be seen whether…international law can support the creation of new causes of action aimed specifically at civil liability for violations of international human rights, and what standard of liability will be applied for those claims…[Also refers to Copper Mesa Mining, Nevsun Resources]

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15 August 2014

Lawsuit against Hudbay in Canada may open new avenue to claims for abuses committed abroad, says commentary

Author: Sebastian Rosemont, Foreign Policy in Focus (USA)

"Seeking Justice in Canada: Hitting Mining Companies Where They Live", 12 Aug 2014

...[T]he harsh reality is that Guatemalans have little to show for their efforts to secure their rights through their country’s court system...Facing dim prospects in Guatemala, these three cases have been brought as a joint suit against Hudbay Minerals [in Canada]...This is the first one to win a judge’s approval to move to the trial stage...There are several legal obstacles for bringing a case to Canada. The company defendants typically argue that Canadian courts lack jurisdiction...Or they might say that the case ought to be heard in the country where the alleged offence took place...Or they might claim that whatever happened was unpredictable...People in countries with weak judicial systems now have at least the possibility to seek justice in...Canada. If the verdict goes in favor of the plaintiffs, a new transnational understanding of rule of law will emerge...[Refers to Anvil Mining, Cambior, Copper Mesa, Compañía Guatemalteca de Níquel, Hudbay Minerals, Tahoe Resources]   


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29 October 2012

[PDF] Corporate Legal Accountability Quarterly Bulletin - Issue 7

Author: Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

[Full text of October 2012 issue of the Corporate Legal Accountability Quarterly Bulletin. Refers to lawsuits against adidas, Amesys (part of Bull), Anadarko, Anglo Platinum (part of Anglo American), Areva, Blackwater, BP, CACI, Cameron International, Chevron, Copper Mesa Mining, Curacao Drydock, DynCorp, Esmor Correctional Services (part of Correctional Services Corporation), Ford, Global Horizons, Halliburton, L-3, PA Child Care, Paladin, Shell, SNCF, Texaco (part of Chevron), Transocean.]

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22 June 2011

Bringing Canadian mining to justice

Author: Karyn Keenan, program officer at Halifax Initiative Coalition, in Pambazuka

Canadian mining companies seem to enjoy impunity virtually everywhere that they operate overseas...Canada has abdicated its governance responsibility regarding the overseas activities of the mining sector, refusing to regulate either the companies or the government agencies that support them, or to take legislative action to ensure that non-nationals...are able to seek redress in Canada...The issue of access to remedy for the victims of corporate abuse requires urgent attention. An obvious priority is to strengthen judicial institutions in the countries where abuse takes place. However, it’s also critical that the judiciary in multinationals’ ‘home’ countries, such as Canada, hear cases involving...their companies in foreign countries, especially when the victims lack other viable options. [Refers to Cambior lawsuit re Guyana, Anvil Mining lawsuit re Dem. Rep. of Congo, Copper Mesa lawsuit re Ecuador, HudBay Minerals lawsuits re Guatemala. Also refers to Barrick Gold, TSX (part of TMX Group).]

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+ Español - Hide

Author: Pambazuka News

…Las empresas mineras canadienses parecen gozar de impunidad en virtualmente todos los lugares donde operan en el exterior...Por lo mismo no sorprende que las víctimas de abusos por parte de estas empresas canadienses hayan puesto su mirada en Canadá….A la fecha, Canadá ha abdicado de su responsabilidad de gobernanza con respecto a las actividades del sector minero en el extranjero…Pasados más de diez años desde el caso Cambior, existe una mayor conciencia en Canadá respecto del impacto de la actividad minera a nivel global, incluida la comunidad jurídica, lo que ha llevado a algunos extranjeros a intentar nuevamente el camino judicial en busca de reparaciones...[E]s...muy relevante que los poderes judiciales de los países en que las multinacionales tienen su domicilio legal, como es el caso de Canadá, se declaren competentes para conocer de [estos] casos...especialmente en los casos en que las víctimas carecen de otra alternativa para recibir justicia. [se refiere también a Anvil Mining, Copper Mesa, HudBay Minerals, Barrick Gold, TSX (parte de TMX Group)]

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30 April 2011

Ecuadorians Lose Appeal in Lawsuit Against Canadian Mining Company and TSX: Canadian law continues to fail communities harmed by Canadian mining overseas

Author: Klippensteins Barristers & Solicitors, Canada

On March 11, 2011, the Court of Appeal for Ontario dismissed an appeal by Ecuadorian campesinos who say they were assaulted by security forces hired on behalf of a Canadian mining company in their native Ecuador...Marcia Ramírez, Polivio Peréz and Israel Peréz had sued Canadian mining company Copper Mesa Mining Corporation and two of its directors as well as the Toronto Stock Exchange, which the Ecuadorians say listed the mining company on its stock exchange after having been warned that money from the listing would lead to violence...In the ruling, the Court recognized that “[t]he threats and assaults alleged by the plaintiffs are serious wrongs. Nothing in these reasons should be taken as undermining the plaintiffs’ rights to seek appropriate redress for those wrongs”, but nonetheless ruled against the Ecuadorians...The Plaintiffs are considering a possible appeal.

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26 April 2011

No Justice, No Peace: Canadian Mining in Ecuador and Impunity

Author: Carlos Zorrilla and Cyril Mychalejko, Upside Down World

On December 2, 2006, 14 paramilitaries…fired into a group of unarmed Ecuadorian campesinos...resisting a copper mining project…This assault led three of the local campesinos…to file a lawsuit against the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) and Copper Mesa Corporation, the Canadian mining company responsible...[A] Liberal Member of Parliament from Canada…introduced legislation that would have been a concrete first step in holding Canadian mining companies accountable for their behavior overseas. Bill C-300…was voted down...[W]hen…the Court of Appeals in Canada ruled against the three…[t]he court basically said that people overseas have no right to sue a Canadian institution or company for human rights violations in Canadian courts…When the judicial system so utterly fails to guarantee minimum justice in cases of clear abuses by transnational corporations, or when the litigation is economically so out of reach for the majority of effected people, what other route is there for communities to seek justice? [also refers to Ecuacorriente (part of Corriente Resources), Chevron]

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23 November 2010

Ramirez vs Copper Mesa and the TSX [Canada]

Author: Toronto Media Co-op

Court of Appeal hearing in the case of Ramirez versus Copper Mesa and the Toronto Stock Exchange. The plaintiffs, represented by the Klippensteins legal firm, are three Ecuadorans who were assaulted and threatened because of their opposition to an open-pit copper mine in Ecuador's Intag valley. The defendants are Canadian mining company Copper Mesa, two of the company's directors, and the Toronto Stock Exchange. The key question that the Court of Appeal will consider is whether it is possible that the defendants have a legal duty to consider the consequences that their decisions can have on people like Marcia, Israel and Polivio.

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7 May 2010

[PDF] Canadian Court Strikes Out Ecuadorian Lawsuit Against Canadian Mining Company and TSX

Author: Klippensteins

An Ontario court today struck out a lawsuit brought in Ontario by three Ecuadorian campesinos against a Canadian mining company…whose security forces they say assaulted them in Ecuador...The Court also dismissed their lawsuit against the TSX…Murray Klippenstein, legal counsel for the Ecuadorians, said he is instructed to appeal the decision…The Court…said that “…there is no connection between the Plaintiffs and the TSX Defendants … [so as to] impose an obligation…” As to the Company and its directors, the court said “…“silence” from the Directors cannot establish the requisite personal nexus between the acts and omissions of the Directors and what allegedly occurred in Ecuador to the Plaintiffs…” [refers to Copper Mesa Mining]

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