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Navajo Nation Reaches $10 Million Settlement with Mining Companies

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The Navajo Nation Department of Justice announced a significant settlement with Kinross and Sunnyside Gold Corporation, resolving the Navajo Nation’s claims against the mining companies for creating and maintaining the conditions that led to the August 2015 Gold King Mine spill.

This settlement follows extensive motion practice and discovery during which we defeated defendants’ numerous attempts to dismiss and dilute the Nation’s case.

“The $10 million-dollar settlement is an important step towards obtaining full and fair compensation for the Navajo Nation,” said partner Andrew Walsh. “We remain committed to ensuring that the USEPA and its contractors—Environmental Restoration, LLC and Weston Solutions, Inc.—are held accountable for their reckless conduct in triggering the Gold King Mine disaster.”

The 2015 spill occurred when the USEPA and its contractors burrowed into the Gold King Mine and triggered a preventable blowout, causing millions of gallons of toxic acid mine waste laden with heavy metals to pour into the sacred waters of the Navajo Nation. Though the USEPA has repeatedly and publicly claimed to “take responsibility” for the spill, it has yet to compensate the Navajo Nation or its people for the harms it undisputedly caused, preferring instead to put up every possible legal roadblock to recovery.

Read more at “Navajo Nation, New Mexico Fights EPA’s Doc Bid In Mine MDL,” Law360, June 23, 2020.

The Hueston Hennigan team includes John Hueston, Moez Kaba, Andrew Walsh, Tanner Camp, Lauren McGrory-Johnson, Sara Haji, Joseph Crusham, and Spencer Schmider.

Media coverage includes Law360, NBC News, Associated Press, Daily Journal, and Washington Post to name a few.

Navajo Nation Press Release