Swedish mining company Boliden wins groundbreaking damage case against 796 plaintiffs from Chile.

In a class action-lawsuit against Boliden, the Skellefteå district court ruled in favor of the mining company. 796 victims from Arica in Chile, sued the Swedish mining company for more than 100 million Swedish crowns. The plaintiffs have all been tested with high levels of arsenic in their urine, Arsenic they claim originates from 20.000 tons of toxic waste from Boliden that was left outside their community in the mid-80’s.

The Swedish district court ruled in favor for the mining company Boliden, who sent 20.000 tons of toxic waste to northern Chile. The waste containing hazardous chemicals like arsenic, lead and mercury, have allegedly made many locals suffer from sickness and diseases like cancer.

Between 1984 and 1985 Boliden exported 20.000 tons of waste sludge from their plant Rönnskär, outside of Skellefteå. Boliden then paid the Chilean mining company Promel a sum of 10 million crowns to extract arsenic and gold from the sludge.

Promel did not have the technology required for such extractions, and the sludge was instead deposited on the open ground, outside of the port town Arica. 

The people of Arica filed a class action-lawsuit against the Swedish mining company, where they sought for damages and the removal of the toxic waste. The district court found that Arica Victims’ evidence was not sufficient to grant them the damages that was sought.

At the time of the shipment of the toxic waste to Chile, discussions over trade in toxic waste were intense. In 1989 the Basel Convention was adopted, implementing ”control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal”. Boliden’s export of the waste from Rönnskär to Chile would not have been possible under the convention. 

Boliden has denied any wrongdoing and claims that the company was following laws and regulations that applied at the time, and that the responsibility was solely on the Chilean company Promel.