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Trevali managers found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in Burkina Faso

Perkoa is located about 120km from Burkina Faso’s capital city of Ouagadougou. (Image courtesy of Trevali Mining.)

A court in Burkina Faso has found two managers of Canada’s Trevali Mining guilty of involuntary manslaughter after a flash flood trapped and killed eight miners in April at the company’s Perkoa zinc operation in the West African country.

The executives, arrested in late August, received different sentences, according to local news agencies.

Hein Frey, the mine’s general manager, was given a suspended sentence of 24 months in prison and a $3,000 fine.

Daryl Chrystensen, director of a subcontracting company, Byrnecut Burkina, was found guilty of complicity in manslaughter and given a 12 month suspended sentence, plus a $1,500-fine.

A suspended sentence means the convicted person does not have to serve it immediately. The court orders it to be deferred for a certain period during which the defendant is on probation.

If the person does not break the law during that time and fulfills the particular conditions of the probation, the sentence is usually considered fulfilled.

If the defendant commits another offence or breaks the terms of probation, the court can order the sentence to be served, in addition to any sentence for the new offence.

Both the government of Burkina Faso and Trevali, which says it was caught off-guard by the flood, have opened investigations into the incident.

Suspended

The underground mine, which produced about 316.2 million pounds of zinc in 2021, has remained halted since April and Trevali has suspended its production and cost guidance for 2022 for the operation..

Earlier this month, Trevali announced it was delisting from the Toronto Stock Exchange, effective Monday October 3 after close. The decision came after the company filed an application for creditor protection under Canada’s Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA).

CCAA allows companies to restructure and carry on their business while avoiding the “social and economic consequences of bankruptcy.”

Trading is also expected to stop on the Lima Stock Exchange, OTCQX and the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.

Together with halting operations at Perkoa, Trevali has suspended operations at its Caribou zinc mine in New Brunswick due to financial challenges. The company’s Rosh Pinah zinc mine in Namibia continues to operate.

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