1 Mar 2012

Mercury poisoning victims want apology

8:31 am on 1 March 2012

Employees who suffered mercury poisoning at a North Otago gold mine say they have never received an apology or compensation for their ordeal.

A Department of Labour report says workers at the Macraes mine, 100km north of Dunedin, were exposed to mercury levels 20 times higher than the recommended limits.

Two men who worked in the mine's gold room tested positive for mercury poisoning which causes damage to the brain, kidneys and lungs.

OceanaGold, which operates the mine, became aware of the dangerous mercury levels in January 2010 but did not report them to the Department of Labour until June that year.

The department's report, released under the Official Information Act, says the company clearly breached the law but the time limit for a prosecution has passed.

The men who suffered mercury poisoning did not want to be interviewed but a close associate said they would like OceanaGold to apologise.