Nine Barrick Gold employees have been prosecuted in relation to the cyanide spill in September 2015, which contaminated five rivers in the San Juan province.
An article first published this afternoon by San Juan newspaper, Diario de Cuyo, revealed that those being charged are high ranking employees whose positions were of “vital importance to the management and control of the mine.” The suspects will not be detained on remand.
Judge Pablo Oritja mentioned that the indictments fall under article 56 of Law 24.501 on dangerous residues, which outlines the lengths of prison terms to be enforced should a mining accident or spill have occurred as a result of “carelessness, or negligence, or incompetence … or by breaching regulations or ordinances.”
Speaking today on national radio AM870, lawyer for the plaintiffs Diego Seguí said he was pleased that the court had determined the responsibility of the company, but lamented that requests to charge local public officials had so far not advanced.
The executives prosecuted include Leandro Poblete, Chief of Processes; Segundo Alvarez, Second Chief of Processes; Carlo Cabanillas, Manager of the Mines; Angel Escudero, Manager of Risk Prevention; Osvaldo Brocca, Supervisor of Technical Services; David Sanchez, Maintenance Supervisor; Ricardo Cortez, Supervisor of the Environment; Walter Pizarro, Manager of Processes; and Antonio Adames, General Manager.
Of the nine employees considered responsible, eight are still currently working with Barrick, while Veladero mine’s General Manager, Adames, was removed as the highest authority shortly after the spill.
In a statement released today, Barrick insisted that it will continue to provide legal support for those affected by this indictment, although the mining company asserts and maintains that no crime has been committed, citing an action plan put into place to correct problems within the mine, approval by the relevant authorities, and measurements showing that “the incident posed no health risk to people of the environment.”
However, a recent court study revealed that the spill had contaminated five local rivers, while an official report criticised the mining company for mismanaging the incident.
Barrick concluded by reminding the public that “the safety of people and the environment remain the top priority” for the mining company.