Guatemalan lawsuits against HudBay can be tried in Canada, court rules
HudBay CEO David Garofalo speaks at the company's annual general meeting in Toronto on Friday May 10, 2013. (Frank Gunn / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
TORONTO -- An Ontario court has ruled that three lawsuits against HudBay Minerals Inc. (TSX:HBM) around alleged shootings and gang-rapes at a mining project Guatemala can proceed to trial in Canada.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs say the decision means the claims of 13 Mayan Guatemalans will proceed to trial in Canadian courts and that the Canadian company could potentially be held legally responsible at home.
They say the judgment should be a "wake-up call" for Canadian mining companies about their responsibilities at foreign mining projects, and expect more claims like this one.
HudBay, which didn't own the mining operations when the alleged incidents occurred, has said the accusations contradict available information and that it would defend itself "vigorously against them."
The Toronto-based company bought the Fenix project nickel mine in Guatemala in a corporate takeover in 2008, but sold it in 2011 to focus on Canadian and Peruvian projects.
The gang rapes are alleged to have taken place in 2007 at the Fenix project. It is alleged that security personnel, along with members of the police and military, attacked the 11 women. There are two other related lawsuits for an alleged killing and a shooting that paralysed a victim.