Cyanide spill mine owner heads for cover

Australian firm goes into administration to fend off possible legal actions after Romanian toxic disaster

The Australian firm that half-owns the Baia Mare gold mine in Romania has voluntarily placed itself in administration in an effort to fend off possible legal actions after January's disastrous cyanide pollution incident, Reuters reported today. Lawyers appointed by Esmeralda Exploration said the next step could be liquidation of the firm, whose only major asset is a 50% stake in Baia Mare owner, Aurul.

Calls for stiff legal compensation claims have come thick and fast since the 30 January spill, which released 100,000 cubic metres of cyanide-containing waters, killing hundreds of tonnes of fish and all other forms of life over hundreds of kilometres of downstream rivers in the Danube basin (ENDS Daily 10 February). These include a threatened lawsuit against Esmeralda by the Hungarian government. According to the firm's lawyers, liquidation would make this or any other legal claim against Esmeralda more difficult to pursue.

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Reuters, tel: +44 20 72 50 11 22.

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