Canadian company criticized following deadly mine flooding

'That is just an astonishingly poor response'

Canadian company criticized following deadly mine flooding

An Ottawa-based non-governmental organization is criticizing the way the Trevali Mining Corporation handled the situation at its Perkoa Mine in Burkina Faso.

Jamie Kneen of MiningWatch Canada questions how well the company was prepared for a disaster, according to a CBC report.

"I think in any context, in the developing world or in Canada, that is just an astonishingly poor response," he said.

This came after the company announced that search team members have found the bodies of four of the workers who went missing last month.

Four workers remain missing, according to the company.

The eight workers went missing after the April 16 flooding event at the mine. There has been no communication with the workers since then, according to the company.

The federal government does not regulate the activities of Canadian mining companies internationally, according to Kneen. 

"They're subject to whatever the laws and regulations that are in a place like Burkina Faso to the extent that they're actually being enforced," he said.

However, in March, the federal New Democrats tabled a private member's bill that would make Canadian companies more accountable for environmental and human rights abuse at their international operations. With that, Canadian companies will have no more excuses, said Kneen.

"They wouldn't be able to say, 'Oh, we didn't know what was going on,'" Kneen said, according to the CBC report. "That would not be a defence anymore and there would actually be a legal course of action to sue them for not doing this."

Last week, Trevali announced that the search and rescue team found no survivors in the remaining rescue chamber of the mine.

Recently, Burkina Faso Prime Minister Albert Ouedraogo banned managers of the Canadian-owned mine from leaving the country while the workers are still missing.

“Precautionary measures have been taken to prevent the persons in charge of the mine from leaving the country and instructions have been given firmly to the Minister of Security for this,” said the Prime Minister’s office in a statement.

During a visit to the mine, Ouedraogo said that there had been “irresponsibility” on the part of those in charge of the mine. He also claims that in the days before the accident, “dynamite was used on the open-air [part of the] mine, which weakened the [underground] gallery and enabled the flooding”.

The West African nation has launched a judicial investigation into the circumstances surrounding the flood of the zinc mine, reported Al Jazeera.

In April, 12 were reported dead while 11 were missing following two mine explosions in southern Poland.

Risk assessment is key to an effective mine rescue plan, according to one expert.