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NEPA sues goldminers

NEPA sues Australian firm to recovery money spent on cleaning cyanide spill at abandoned gold mining site.
NEPA sues goldminers

Ausjam Gold Mining Site:photo courtesy of Jamaica Observer

MANDEVILLE, Manchester — The National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) has slapped gold mining firm Ausjam with a lawsuit to recover $5.4 million the agency said it spent cleaning up after a cyanide spill at an abandoned goldmining site in Clarendon nearly two years ago and which it said was left unmanned by Ausjam.

NEPA's Executive Director Peter Knight told the Jamaica Observer last Monday that the environmental agency had revoked Ausjam's environmental licence and was now suing the company to recover most of the US$75,000 (approximately J$7.5 million) it spent on the clean-up operations.

NEPA's Director of Legal Services and Enforcement Robert Collie said Ausjam had paid back US$25,000 (just over J$2 million) of the sum, but had paid nothing else to the agency despite several letters to them.

"We are suing for damages and for the cost to remove containers of sodium cyanide," he told the Sunday Observer last Tuesday.

He said Ausjam is being sued "under the NRCA Act, for negligence and for not conforming to the environmental permit". The suit was filed in the Supreme Court through the attorney general's office.

But the mining company is crying foul and has slapped the Government with a counterclaim, suing for damages and insisting that it wants back some of the US$25,000 it paid to NEPA.

Ausjam's attorney Christopher Honeywell told the Sunday Observer last Friday that the company "overspent in paying", given the minimal damage the cyanide spill caused.


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