Diamond miner contends mercury never used at Victor operation, chemical element is ‘naturally occurring’ in James Bay region
A victory in court against De Beers Canada “sets a precedent” on reporting and regulating mining pollution in Ontario’s Far North, according to an environmental law organization.
Ecojustice said its “eight-year struggle for accountability” from the global diamond producer came to an end when the company pleaded guilty in a Timmins courtroom last week to one count of failing to provide mercury monitoring data from pollution streaming from its Victor Diamond Mine in the James Bay region.
De Beers Canada operated the open-pit Victor diamond mine, 80 kilometres west of Attawapiskat First Nation, from 2008 to 2019.
According to evidence gathered by Wildlands League, starting in 2015, De Beers continuously failed to report mercury and methylmercury levels in water systems around the Victor Mine site over a seven-year period, “despite being required by law to do so,” said Ecojustice in its release.
Methylmercury is a poison that, when in elevated levels of river water, can put humans at risk through the consumption of fish, the group said.