LABRADOR – A Newfoundland and Labrador provincial judge has found that Vale
did not violate the federal Fisheries Act at its Voisey’s Bay nickel mine in October 2011. The court found that enforcement officers employed by Environment Canada failed to maintain a chain of evidence on effluent samples reputedly from the mine site.
The officers relied on compliance samples provided by Vale from the site. Some samples took as long as 48 hours to travel from the mine site to the lab in St. John’s, NL. To obtain legal samples, the officers would have to have collected the samples themselves and ensured their proper handling at every step.
Effluent quality from the Voisey’s Bay mine site failed several water quality tests between 2008 and 2011. Vale spent millions of dollars tracking down the causes of these failures and improving its effluent management. No damage to local fish or their habitat was recorded in 2011.
The court further noted that while Environment Canada was taking Vale to court, the provincial environmental regulator continued to support the company’s efforts to improve. No discussions between the federal and provincial agencies were held on the matter.
The Voisey’s Bay nickel mine is 30 km southwest of the village of Nain. It produces close to 50 million tonnes of nickel per year. See Vale.com/Canada