Nevsun Resources' gold and copper mine in the Bisha mining district of northern Eritrea is at the centre of a human-rights dispute. (CBC)
The British Columbia Court of Appeal has dismissed an appeal by Nevsun Resources to have a human rights case against the miner moved to Eritrea.
The case, brought forward by three Eritrean refugees, alleges they were used as slaves by government-owned construction firms during the construction of Nevsun's Bisha mine in the East African country.
Nevsun has argued that the case should be heard in Eritrea, but the B.C. Court of Appeal has upheld last year's ruling by the B.C. Supreme Court that since Nevsun was a B.C. company, the province's court had territorial jurisdiction.
The appeal court said that while the practical and logistical difficulties of trying these claims in B.C. would be considerable, last year's ruling was not wrong in finding that there was a real risk of corruption and unfairness in hearing the case in Eritrea.
The company declined to comment on the lawsuit because it's still before the court, but said in an email that the Bisha Mine, which is 40-per-cent owned by the Eritrean government, is committed to safe and responsible operations.
The allegations against the company, which have not been proven in court, include that the company must have been aware of credible reports of abuses by the government, and that it allegedly facilitated forced labour by entering into a commercial relationship with the Eritrean regime.