A Guyanese organization has filed court papers seeking damages of $226.7 million from the Montreal-based Cambior mining company.

Cambior operates a gold mine in Guyana from which 3.2 billion litres of cyanide sludge spilled into the South American country’s main river system last year. The Guyanese organization claims 15,000 people were affected, many of whom are indigenous people. It estimates the cleanup cost at $200 million.

The Guyanese have also filed complaints against the mine’s engineers with the Quebec, Ontario and B.C. Order of Engineers.

The company also runs half a dozen mines in Northern Quebec. Its latest mine opened in February – the Grevet zinc and copper mine 35 km northwest of Lebel-sur-Quévillon.

Ray Vézina, VP-Finance at Cambior, said the company has compensated Crees affected by the mine with four-wheelers, a total of $5-10,000 and in one case with a new cabin.

Cambior has also agreed to train 10 Crees at the mine and consider Cree businesses for contracts.

Johnny Blacksmith, tallyman of the W-24A trapline where the mine is located, told The Nation that Cambior’s activities have had a big impact on local wildlife. “There were a lot of rabbits there, a lot of partridge. You don’t see them any more. There used to be beaver along the road. There’s hardly any beaver now…

“I saw a lot of mess when they were making the lagoon for their waste.”

Cambior is projecting to make $843 million in revenues from the mine.