Detour Gold pled guilty to one count of criminal negligence causing death, regarding the cyanide poisoning death of 52-year-old Denis Millette in June 2015 at its Detour Lake mine in northeastern Ontario. The company will pay a fine of $1.4 million and a corresponding 30 per cent surcharge.

At the sentencing hearing on August 30 and 31 in Cochrane, Ontario, the court also ordered the company to make a restitution payment for Millette’s family for lost income through retirement. Detour requested the restitution payment, and CEO Paul Martin confirmed to CIM Magazine that an amount had been settled on but declined to disclose it for the "privacy of the family."

On June 3, 2015, while repairing the inline leach reactor – a machine that uses sodium cyanide to separate gold and rock – an unprotected Millette was exposed to cyanide through a broken valve. He died from cyanide intoxication despite help from on-site medical staff.

Detour was charged by Ontario Provincial Police in May 2016 with criminal negligence, and in the following month the Ontario Ministry of Labour charged the company with 15 violations of the province’s Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA). Three supervisors at the company also received two charges each.

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After Detour pled guilty to the criminal negligence charge, the OHSA charges against the company were withdrawn, the company reported in a Sept. 5 release. The supervisors still face charges for not ensuring Millette was wearing proper gear, and not supervising or instructing him properly on the job site. The judicial pretrial will begin on October 25, and the trial has been scheduled from Jan. 29 to Feb. 23, 2018, a ministry spokesperson said in an email.

"We have dealt with improving our processes, our procedures and our culture and we will continue to do that as we strive to achieve our goal of zero harm," Martin said.

A company can face criminal charges for workplace accidents and deaths, and fined if found guilty, under the 2004 amendments to the Criminal Code of Canada. The changes came in response to the May 1992 Westray mine disaster in Nova Scotia, where a methane explosion killed all 26 miners working underground in the Pictou County mine.