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Company agrees to settle suit filed by Nev. miners

Company agrees to settle suit filed by Nev. miners

March 12th, 2011 in News

ELKO, Nev. (AP) - A subsidiary of a Canadian mining company has agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by employees of a northeastern Nevada mine after they were laid off in August 2008, both sides said.

Yukon-Nevada Gold Corp. subsidiary Queenstake Resources USA agreed to settle the complaint filed by five former Jerritt Canyon Mine employees, the Elko Daily Free Press reported Friday.

The ex-employees, in their suit filed in U.S. District Court in Reno in July 2009, claimed they were denied notice and severance pay, as well as medical bill payments required under federal law.

The suit sought class-action status for roughly 400 employees who lost jobs when the mine 50 miles north of Elko was shut down due to financial troubles. Yukon-Nevada, based in Vancouver, British Columbia, has since reopened Jerritt Canyon.

Attorney Travis Gerber, who represents the plaintiffs, said he will file a motion with the court to approve the settlement and certify the class action. A claims administrator then will contact all former employees and determine how much each is owed.

"Two and a half years has been too long, but it looks like we'll finally get closure on this," Gerber said. "There will be a 60-day claims period. I'm looking at checks being issued from June on."

Queenstake spokesman Gary DiGrazia said he thinks the company will deposit the settlement money at the end of this month. But he said the two sides still must go to court, so payments could take three to four months.

Queenstake has said it would pay $1.6 million in medical claims, more than $1.2 million in back pay for employees, $75,000 to cover 401k contribution claims and $100,000 in enhancements for the five named plaintiffs, the newspaper reported.

The company paid the workers half of their severance pay when the mine shut down, and now will pay the other half of their severance pay and medical bills that were pending at the time of the closure.

"People suffered hardships. We want Queenstake to pay," said Jenni Kinsman, whose husband, Russ, worked at Jerritt Canyon for 14 years and now works for Barrick Gold Corp.

A meeting was scheduled Saturday in Elko to update former mine employees on the settlement.

Information from: Elko Daily Free Press,