In December, 2015, the province of British Columbia announced it would not lay Mines Act charges against
Imperial Metals Corporation for a catastrophic dam breach at its
Mount Polley mine. On August 4, 2014, 8 million cubic meters of mining
tailings and materials, along with 17 million cubic meters of
water, were released into nearby lakes and water resources from the
mine in that breach.
The B.C. Chief Inspector of Mines found that while there were
weak practices, no legal contraventions of mining legislation
occurred. If the Mines Act had allowed for
administrative monetary penalties ("AMPs"), it might
have been a different story.
Other provincial and federal laws allow for AMPs. An AMP system
is intended to move offences into a civil penalty system avoiding
the need to prove an offence in court. Recommendation 4-3 of the Chief Inspector's report
about the dam breach recommended that the Mines Act should have
enhanced compliance and enforcement options, and the full suite of
options should be considered, including administrative
While Imperial Metals avoided Mines Act charges, it is not yet
in the clear. The dam breach continues to be investigated as part of a
joint investigation under the B.C. Environment Management Act and the federal Fisheries Act. Potential
fines are very significant under the Fisheries Act, as we recently
reported in the
Teck Metals case, where $3,000,000 in fines were levied at the
end of February, 2016.
Imperial Metals is also facing a class action.
Siskinds LLP is counsel in a proposed securities class action
brought on behalf of investors against Imperial Metals and certain
of its directors, officers and affiliates relating to the
circumstances of Mount Polley breach. The claim alleges that the
defendants made misleading statements and omitted to disclose
material information to the investors regarding the design,
construction and operations of Mount Polley's tailing storage
The Imperial Oil refinery pled guilty to one offence for discharging a contaminant, coker stabilizer, thermocracked gas, into the natural environment causing an adverse effect and was fined $650,000...
Ontario's Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change continues to roll out its Climate Change Action Plan with its proposed GHG guide for projects that are subject to the province's Environmental Assessment Act.
In June, 2016, Justice Faieta of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice awarded damages of $57,712.31 plus interest against legal counsel who failed to file a claim within the required limitation period.
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