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Canadian mining company settles drinking water lawsuit with Alaska Eskimos

[JURIST] Canadian-based Teck Cominco Ltd. [corporate website] asked US District Court Judge John Sedwick Wednesday to approve a $120M settlement agreement with six Eskimo plaintiffs from the Alaskan village of Kivalino. The agreement stems from a 2002 lawsuit filed in the US District Court for the District of Alaska [official website] by residents living near the company's Red Dog Mine, claiming the company - the world's second largest zinc producer - dumped more than the Clean Water Act's legal limit of toxic discharge into Red Dog Creek. Kivalino residents fish and draw their drinking water from the creek. The parties had initially given notice of a settlement agreement [PDF text] in May, but the plaintiffs allegedly changed their minds [Anchorage Daily News report] before filing a proposed settlement with the court. Bloomberg News has more.

Other mining companies elsewhere around the world have in recent years faced legal challenges, complaints and protests from indigenous and aboriginal groups claiming that mining activity has infringed their rights or their enjoyment of property. In July, the Philippines Commission on Human Rights (CHR) [official website] announced it would investigate Australian mining company Oceana Gold [corporate website] for possible human rights violations at the site of a planned gold and copper mine in Didipio, Philippines. Also in July, the Court of Appeal for Ontario [official website] in Canada ruled that sentences imposed on seven aboriginal protesters in March for opposing mining company operations on community land were too severe [JURIST report].

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