Government Opposes Attempts by Kinross Gold Corp. to End Gold King Mine Suit

The United States of America filed an opposition on Monday to Kinross Gold Corporation’s motion seeking summary judgment in a consolidated lawsuit regarding the Gold King Mine Release, which occurred in August 2015. The defendant Kinross was accused of playing a part in allowing hazardous chemicals to be released from the mine and pollute waters in the United States. 

The opposition said that the claims from the U.S. arise under federal law, citing the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act and are consistent with the plaintiff’s responsibilities.  It said that Kinross’ “contacts within the United States belie any complaint that litigating in this forum is unconstitutional, unfair and unreasonable,” and that the motion for summary judgment should be denied. 

The mining companies sought to end the lawsuits against them in October, Harrison Western Construction filed a Motion to Dismiss and Kinross and Sunnyside Gold Corporation filed Motions for Summary Judgement. The companies alleged that because the breach of the mine occurred when they were not using the site and after the EPA hired contractors who breached a sealed section of the mine, the companies are not at fault. 

In response to allegations by Kinross that it does not do business in Utah, New Mexico, or the United States, the motion from the U.S. said that the company “engages in gold transactions with the United States annually,” and acquires gold or from American companies. Although the opposition admits that Kinross did not own the mine, it disputed claims that it did not operate the mine because it was “directly involved in decisions having to do with the leakage or disposal of hazardous waste, and/or decisions about compliance with environmental regulations relating to the mine.” 

Utah also filed a document in the case on Monday stating that it joined with the opposition to the motion from Sunnyside Gold Corporation which it said would be filed by the Navajo Nation and New Mexico, this motion was either not yet available or not yet filed. In addition, Utah filed an opposition to the Motion to Dismiss from Harrison Western Construction. The EPA, another defendant, settled with Utah in the matter, agreeing to pay the state $3 million to help with the clean up and other environmental efforts, however, Utah still has claims against other defendants. 

The United States and Utah are represented by their respective Departments of Justice. Sunnyside Gold Corporation is represented by Crowley Fleck PLLP. Kinross Gold U.S.A., Inc. and Kinross Gold Corporation were represented by Holland & Hart LLP. Harrison Western Construction Corporation is represented by Hall & Evans, LLC