A mining industry-funded company has been ordered to pay more than $1.1 million to a mining activist and environmental group, following a case against the company in the High Court.
The court ordered Mineral Water Scotland to pay the $1,000-a-month maintenance bill to the activist and the environmental group Mining Watch Alliance, which has been investigating the company.
In July last year, the company’s directors made the decision to sever ties with the group, saying the organisation was not prepared to pursue the case.
The company’s lawyers had initially argued that Mineral Water was entitled to damages for failing to comply with the Companies Act, and that the action would be inconsistent with the statutory provisions.
In the High and Circuit Courts, the plaintiffs, who include former Minerals Australia chief executive Paul MacKenzie and former mining activist John McQuaid, said Mineral Water had breached its duty to comply by failing to take reasonable steps to prevent the environmental impact of its mining activities.
The plaintiffs said they had discovered a series of breaches of the Companies (Amendment) Act, which gives the Secretary of State the power to order the removal of a company’s name, logo or registration from an Australian register.
The plaintiff had argued that the name Mineral Water should be removed because the company had a history of misleading the public about the impact of mining activities on the environment.
The Court of Appeal found that Mineral Waters had breached the law by failing, among other things, to inform the public of its potential impacts on water resources, and to publish information about its mine activities.
It said the information about the company was misleading, misleading and misleading because it omitted information that the court had determined was likely to mislead the public.
“The fact that the information that Mineral has given about the impacts of its operations on water supplies and the risk to the environment is not disclosed does not enable a reasonable person to conclude that the material it has given is accurate or reliable,” the Court of Appeals found.
The High Court said Mineral Waters’ misleading statements “were likely to prejudice public confidence in its ability to manage its operations”.
The court was told that Mineral water had a track record of “deliberately misleading the Australian public about its mining operations”, including its impacts on drinking water resources.
“Mineral water has engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct by its failure to disclose that it has a history or ongoing relationship with Mining Watch,” it said.
“These misleading statements are likely to be of a similar character to that found in the Mineral Water conduct notice and have the effect of intimidating those who are critical of the company and its actions from speaking out.”
“The conduct of Mineral Water’s directors and senior management has also led to a number of breaches by their conduct which have been well documented,” the court said.
In its response, Mineral Water said it had engaged in “substantial, repeated and repeated breaches of law” over the last four years, and had a long history of not taking reasonable steps “to ensure the safety of its customers, the environment and the environment in general”.
It said it was “working with the law enforcement agencies” to identify further breaches of laws.
The decision to cut ties with Miningwatch Alliance was made after the company received “very serious concerns” about the group’s reports and other information.
In a statement to the ABC, the Minerals Council of Australia said the decision had been made after Mineral Water submitted “substantially more than 10,000 documents, including correspondence, emails and other correspondence”.
“The decision was based on serious concerns from Mineral Water shareholders that the company has misled the Australian community,” it added.
“We remain confident that the actions of Mineral water are consistent with its obligations under the Companies Law.”
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