Sierra Leone community sues diamond miner
Publish date: 13 August 2019
Issue Number: 618
Diary: Legalbrief Environmental
A group of Koidu residents is suing diamond mining firm Octea Limited and related companies for polluting the environment around its large diamond mine in the Kono district, notes a Mining Weekly report. The group alleges Octea poisoned the water, destroyed houses and failed to relocate hundreds of households away from the blasting. According to a 2003 mining licence agreement, the Octea subsidiary that operates the mine Koidu Limited said it would relocate all households within 500m of the mine. The complaint, filed in Sierra Leone's High Court in March, claims $288m in damages for ‘degradation or destruction of land, destruction of homes and loss of livelihoods and ... dumping of toxic mine waste,’ among other things. On 22 July, a judge ruled the case was ‘adjourned for judicial recess’ until the end of September. Octea, which operates the mine, said the allegations were ‘baseless and without merit’. The complaint against Octea is only the third time that a large foreign company from the extractive industry has faced a challenge in Sierra Leone's courts, according to local legal specialists.