Trevor Hesselink of Wildlands League has been pursuing a private prosecution against De Beers. Ecojustice has represented Trevor for a number of years for the alleged failure of De Beers to report mercury monitoring data collected at its Victor Diamond Mine in Northern Ontario to the provincial regulator.
In October 2018, De Beers brought a motion arguing their right to trial within a reasonable time was violated. In December 2018, the Justice of the Peace (JP) granted the motion and stayed all charges. Ecojustice appealed that decision on behalf of our client.
In a detailed decision dated December 24, 2019, the court found in our favour. Justice Thomas found that the private prosecution was resolute and focused on proceeding to court for an adjudication on the merits in as timely a fashion as possible, while the defendant De Beers appeared “to have no interest in arriving at this destination, but rather to have been clearly dilatory”. The full decision is here.
Wildlands League, represented by Ecojustice, alleges that De Beers failed to report properly on mercury levels from five out of nine surface water monitoring stations for the creeks next to its open pit mine between 2009 and 2016, violating a condition of its Certificate of Approval. These are offences under subsection 107 (3) of the Ontario Water Resources Act. When we launched our case we flagged the broader implications.
Trevor Hesselink said, “We expected Ontario to enforce its own laws. If we can’t rely on Ontario to oversee a single diamond mine, how can we trust it to oversee the many northern infrastructure and mining developments that are on the horizon?”
Julia Croome, Ecojustice lawyer, said, “This case sets a precedent for the so-called “Ring of Fire” in northern Ontario and how mining is regulated. Doug Ford has claimed Ontario is open for business. Any mining development must follow the law.”
For further information please contact:
Director, Conservation Planning
416-971-9453 ext 47
416-368-7533 ext. 523