Marinduque: Barrick Gold Wins Ruling

Marcopper Dam in Sta. Cruz, Maridnuque
Marinduque, an island province in the northern Philippines that was once the site of U.S. concentration camps (during the 1899-1902 U.S. conquest), will not get help from Nevada in its battle with Canada’s Barrick Gold Corporation.

Marinduque, a farming and fishing area, is also known for the March 24, 1996, Marcopper mining disaster. A break in a mine tailings pit drainage outlet caused toxic mine waste to wash into the Makulapnit-Boac river system, covering one entire village and causing the evacuation of 20 others. The Boac became unusable, destroying the livelihood of most of the population, which was also afflicted by zinc and copper bodily residues. A 2005 lawsuit against the company, Placer Dome, has lingered on for a decade. Placer Dome is now owned by Barrick, which has operated in Nevada for decades. Mining operations in Marinduque have ended. The case came to Nevada with Marinduque arguing that “jurisdiction is proper in Nevada through piercing Barrick’s and PDI’s corporate veils.”

The corporation sought dismissal of the suit in Nevada, saying that it should be heard in Canada. Marinduque asked that if the case was dismissed in Nevada, the dismissal should be conditioned on the case being heard in the Philippines. Neither the district nor the Nevada Supreme Court agreed, and the case was dismissed.

“The Province contends that some Marinduquenos living in Nevada may be interested in this litigation, but that does not mean that Nevada … as a whole has an interest in this lawsuit,” the Supreme Court held. “Barrick is incorporated and headquartered in Ontario, Barrick and PDI claim that only their subsidiaries have conducted business activities in Nevada, and no events related to this litigation occurred in Nevada. Thus, this case lacks any genuine connection to this state.”
The stakes for Marinduque were illustrated by one sentence in the ruling: “Several participants in medical missions to the Province also reside across the United States.”
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