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Canadian court dismisses Nevsun's appeals to block lawsuit over forced labor

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Canadian court dismisses Nevsun's appeals to block lawsuit over forced labor

A British Columbia Appeals court dismissed Nevsun Resources Ltd.'s appeal to block a lawsuit by Eritrean workers, who claim they were forced to work at the company's Bisha zinc mine in East Africa, Reuters reported Nov. 21.

In October 2016, a Canadian court ruled that the lawsuit against the miner can proceed in British Columbia. The company challenged the ruling, arguing that the case should be dismissed and that any lawsuit should be heard in Eritrea.

Three British Columbia Appeals court judges dismissed all three of Nevsun's appeals, and ruled that the lower court judge had not erred in his ruling.

A group of Eritrean former mine workers claimed they were forced to work at the Bisha mine and endured harsh conditions including hunger, illness and physical punishment at the hands of military commanders.

The six plaintiffs also said that they were conscripts in the country's national service system when they worked at the mine.

Nevsun, however, said in its legal filings that the Eritrean military never provided labor to the mine, and even if that was the case the company was not directly responsible for employing the workers.

Joe Fiorante, one of the lawyers representing the workers, said the case will now proceed on its merits. The company can file an appeal with the Supreme Court of Canada over the latest ruling.