Federal judge Sebastián Casanello prosecuted Sergio Lorusso, Argentina’s former Secretary of Environment, and Jorge Mayoral, former Secretary of Mines.
The officials are accused of abuse of power in the case of the 2015 cyanide spill at Barrick Gold’s (TSX, NYSE:ABX) Veladero mine, the first of three similar incidents registered at the operation between 2015 and 2017.
According to Casanello’s decision, the former secretaries failed to comply with their duties of monitoring Barrick’s gold leaching process. By not executing their power, they also failed to intervene when irregularities took place. Such oversight is punished with jail time for a minimum of one month and a maximum of two years.
Back in September 2015, a faulty valve on a pipe carrying solution with cyanide between Veladero’s leach pad and the processing plant broke and released 1.07 million litres of contaminated water. Following an investigation, it was determined that five rivers were polluted as a consequence of the accident.
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