Toronto/Ottawa/Montreal—27 October 2017. Over 200 community members, families, and property and business owners are still fighting Agnico Eagle and Yamana Gold over the impacts from the Canadian Malartic gold mine – the biggest open pit mine located on the edge of a community in Canada. The case will be before the Quebec Superior Court today, in Val d’Or.
“We are quite concerned about Agnico Eagle and Yamana Gold’s response to this suit. They appear to be willing to spend more money on isolating and wearing out affected community members rather than swiftly and responsibly resolving the conflict through a mediation or arbitration process,” states Ugo Lapointe, Canada Program Coordinator for MiningWatch Canada.
“The current approach taken by both Agnico Eagle and Yamana Gold is not meeting the best practices and standards.”
The independent Expert Panel that reviewed the project last year did recommend ‘a mediation process’ to resolve the conflict. It also recommended that the companies review their Compensation and Relocation Protocol to specifically address the community members’ concerns, including the need to be able to relocate in a neighbouring community without incurring debts, costs, or losses in the process.
Studies commissioned by the companies themselves show a $40,000 to $70,000 price difference between houses located close to the mine site and similar sized houses located in neighbouring communities.
The Expert Panel also identified significant environmental, health and stress impacts related to the ongoing exposure to dust, noise and blasting vibration from the operation, which runs round the clock, 365 days a year. The closest homes are 100 metres away from the open pit; the class action covers an area that includes about 350 homes and apartment buildings (about 1200 people), all located within 800 metres of the pit. The mine has been operating since 2011 and is expected to continue beyond 2028.
The suit, which was approved by the Court in May 2017, is led by Trudel Jonhston Lesperance (TJL), a prominent law firm in Montreal that specializes in public interest litigation. TJL has won significant cases over the years, including against tobacco companies, banks and automotive companies.
Ugo Lapointe, MiningWatch Canada, [email protected], 514-708-0134