We repeat verbatim this news report from Mineweb, lest you missed it. We have previously written about the failure of the tailings dam and it implications. It is interesting to see closure on the matter, but sad to record again the story of the mining industry under siege. Regardless, here is the piece.

RENO, NV (Mineweb.com) --A Guyana Supreme Court Justice has ordered that a $2 billion lawsuit filed against Omai Gold Mines in connection with a 1995 tailings dam accident be dismissed.

Justice Carl Singh also ordered plaintiffs Judith David, Richard Brown and Lilmattie to pay attorneys’ costs for defendants Omai Gold Mines, a subsidiary of Quebec’s Cambior, consultants Golder Associates, Home Insurance, environmental consultants Knight Piesold, Golden Star Resources, and several international banks.

David, Brown and Lilmattie filed a class action suit on behalf of all 23,000 persons who were residing, using, working, fishing or possessing property along the regional watersheds of the Omai and Essequibo Rivers, ranging from the Omai Gold Mines to the Atlantic Ocean.

A tailings dam at the mine was breached on August 19, 1995. Company officials said the spill was caused by the failure of the dam's compressed saprolite core. The structural integrity of this highly weathered bedrock material had been attested to by two Canadian engineering firms. Over a period of 100 hours, 120 million gallons of gold mine tailings spilled into the rivers before mining personnel diverted the flow to the open pit gold mine. Three days after the accident, Guyanese President Cheddi Jagan declared 80 kilometers of the Essequibo an environmental disaster zone.

The Essequibo River serves as the primary source of water for drinking, cooking, bathing, livestock and agriculture for local residents. After the spill, a ban was placed on the sale and consumption of all fish from the river, along with a ban on bathing, drinking, cooking and other domestic uses. A preliminary report by the Pan American Health Organization, however, estimated that only between 100 and 200 people actually suffered exposure to environmental health risks from the spill.

Although environmental NGOs originally claimed more than 11,000 fish and a number of hogs were poisoned in the spill, it was actually determined that only 351 dead fish were found in the Omai River. No dead fish were found in the Essequibo River into which the Omai flows.

A number of national and international agencies were called in to monitor and remediate the spill’s effects, including the United Nations, the OAS, the World Health Organization and the Pan American Health Organization.

Meanwhile, a Guyana Commission of Inquiry found no criminal liability for the spill. International NGOs, however, working through sources of information close to the scene of the spill, claimed that the site of the accident was an "environmental disaster area." The North American news media relied on these NGOs accounts for most of its information on the accident. The spill generated international headlines, and is still cited by environmentalists as an example of an alleged environmental disaster resulting from the use of cyanide in mining processes, and the disposal of heavy metals in mine tailings.

The Omai mine was shut down in the third quarter of 2005 after 13 years of operation due to the depletion of mineral reserves.