Tanzania threatens Acacia with closing North Mara over water pollution

North Mara mine. (Image courtesy of Acacia Mining.)

Tanzania has given Barrick Gold-subsidiary Acacia Mining (LON:ACA) until March 30 to stop waste water pollution at its North Mara mine or face a shutdown, but the country’s No.1 gold producer said Friday a brief spill affecting the operation has already been halted.

The miner says the spill happened because sections of a pipeline used to carry water to a tailings storage facility were either vandalized or stolen.

The African miner, fined over the incident in January, said the spillage happened after sections of a pipeline used to carry waste water from the North Mara mine to a tailings storage facility (TSF) had been either vandalized or stolen. As a result, it said, the pump used to move tailings was switched off, causing water levels in the pond to rise and subsequently overflow.

“The mine has welcomed the support of the government on resolving this issue, and is working closely with the authorities to implement improvements to security measures around the polishing pond in order to help prevent any recurrence,” Acacia said in the statement.

Barrick Gold, which owns 63.9% of Acacia Mining, recently proposed a plan to settle disputes between the Tanzania miner and the country’s government, which includes a $300 million payment to resolve tax claims in the East African nation.

In 2017, Acacia was handed a $190 billion tax bill — almost four times Tanzania’s gross domestic product and about two centuries worth of revenue for the company — for underreporting output, an allegation the company denies.

North Mara is Acacia’s largest mine. It produced 336,055 ounces of gold last year, or about 65% of the company’s total output.

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