African refugees alleging rights abuses get go-ahead to sue Canadian mining firm


VANCOUVER – Foreign workers who have accused a Vancouver-based company of crimes against humanity in an African mine will get the chance to have their case heard in the Canadian legal system.

The Supreme Court of British Columbia has released a judgment giving the green light for three refugees to proceed with a civil lawsuit against Nevsun Resources Ltd. (TSX:NSU), which owns a controlling interest in the Bisha gold mine in the tiny East African country of Eritrea.

Joe Fiorante, one of the lawyers representing the group, says this is the first time foreign claimants have been able to file a lawsuit against a Canadian company over allegations of human rights abuses.

The judgment also dismissed the workers’ application to have their allegations heard as a single case, and instructed them instead to file three separate claims.

In a statement, Nevsun says it is studying the decision and will consider an appeal.

It says the decision makes no findings with respect to the plaintiffs’ allegations, including whether any of them were in fact at the Bisha mine.

The company says it is confident that its subsidiary operates the mine according to international standards of governance, workplace conditions, health, safety and human rights.

Fiorante says his legal team plans on filing dozens more claims from other former mine employees.

© Copyright Times Colonist

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