OceanaGold (OGC) has been fined US$100,000 (roughly A$128,500) for breaching environmental rules at its Haile Gold Mine in South Carolina
This marks the third time in the last year that the company has run into trouble with the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and follows other violations noted in 2018 and 2019
The company is accused of releasing excessive amounts of mercury, failing to submit the required pollution test results, providing misleading statements and failing to secure a DHEC permit
An independent third-party has been hired to audit the mine's environmental performance amid questions regarding the company's commitment to environmental regulations
OceanaGold remains steady at $2.24 per share
OceanaGold (OGC) has been fined US$100,000 (roughly A$128,500) for breaching environmental rules at its Haile Gold Mine in South Carolina.
It's the third time in the last year that the Lancaster County-based operation has run into trouble with the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and follows other violations that were noted back in 2018 and 2019.
According to the DHEC, OceanaGold is accused of releasing excessive amounts of mercury, failing to submit the required pollution test results, providing misleading statements and failing to secure a DHEC permit.
The DHEC added that the size of the fine — which is the largest pollution-related penalty issued to a South Carolina company in more than a year — was largely due to the significant length of time that the Haile operation had gone without adhering to environmental rules.
"DHEC is always concerned when any industry doesn't operate in compliance with our state regulations that exist for protecting human health and the environment," said spokeswoman Laura Renwick on Thursday last week.
In September last year, the Haile Gold Mine was fined US$11,200 (roughly A$14,400) for several violations, including the release of the metal thallium, which is used in the production of rat poison. Then, in December, the operation's laboratory — located across the street and run by a third-party — was hit with a US$16,000 (roughly A$20,500) for its failure to properly manage hazardous material.
Prior to the start of mining operations four years ago, the company said it would run a state-of-the-art operation that would meet the necessary environmental regulations.
"In accordance with our Environmental Policy, we are committed to responsible environmental management through all of the stages of the development cycle: exploration, construction, operations, and closure," the company says on its website.
"We aim to respect, honour, protect and support biodiversity and the natural environments."
Now, however, questions are beginning to surface about the Haile Gold Mine's commitment to its Environmental Policy.
Former Democratic member of the South Carolina House of Representatives Mandy Powers Norrell, who raised concerns regarding the mine's environmental impact before it opened, said the violations are disturbing.
"To have something like this happen, I'm sure is terribly embarrassing and concerning to them, yet it has happened three times," she added.
"It makes me worry that there is a breakdown in the operations that they are unable to prevent."
According to a statement issued on Thursday, the Haile Gold Mine has hired an independent third-party to audit the mine's environmental performance.