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Jan 14, 2020

   

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Court sides with environmental groups in ongoing De Beers lawsuit

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There needs to be accountability. We need our regulators to step up and do their job.”

The courts have ruled in favour of an environmental group that accused De Beers Canada of allegedly failing to report mercury monitoring data collected at the Victor Diamond Mine to the provincial regulator.

The Victor Diamond Mine is located on wetlands along the Attawapiskat River near Attawapiskat First Nation on the James Bay Coast.

Timmins provincial court Justice David A. Thomas granted the appeal made by Trevor Hesselink, the director of Wildlands League, the non-profit organization that accused De Beers in 2015 of breaching a section of the Ontario Water Resources Act on an ongoing basis between June 2009 and July 2016.

Hesselink alleged DeBeers failed to self-monitor and report on the mine’s “effluent discharge,” specifically the levels of mercury and methyl mercury seeping into the Attawapiskat River.

“We expected Ontario to enforce its own laws. If we can’t rely on Ontario to oversee a single diamond mine, how can we trust it to oversee the many northern infrastructure and mining developments that are on the horizon?”

The allegation followed an 18-month investigation conducted by Wildlands League into the mine’s monitoring results.

In his ruling, Judge Thomas ordered the charges proceed to a trial, stating his agreement with Hesselink’s argument that De Beers caused delay throughout the previous proceedings.

“The defendant appears to have had no interest in arriving at this destination, but rather, to have been clearly dilatory, and far more interested in drifting off into detours along the way,” he wrote in his decision, adding the trial judge made an error when characterizing the periods of delay in question.

The trial judge had entered a stay of proceedings after “failing to find any defence delay or exceptional circumstances, except one.

Anna Baggio, the director of conservation planning at Wildlands League, told The Daily Press Judge Thomas’s ruling was “important.”

“There needs to be accountability. We need our regulators to step up and do their job.”