Barrick faces new lawsuit for alleged rights abuses in Tanzania

North Mara, Buzwagi (pictured) and Bulyanhulu mines are now owned 84% by Barrick and 16% by the Tanzania government. (Image courtesy of Acacia Mining.)

Twenty-one Tanzanian nationals filed a lawsuit in Ontario Supreme Court Wednesday morning against Barrick Gold (TSE: ABX) for alleged human rights violations at the company’s North Mara gold mine in Tanzania.

It is the first time the Canadian gold giant has faced legal action in its home country for alleged abuses abroad, but it has faced prior allegations in the UK.

In 2020, a group of eight Tanzanians filed a legal claim at the British High Court against a subsidiary of Barrick Gold, alleging human rights abuses by security forces at North Mara mine.

The claimants were assisted by two non-profit organizations, RAID and Miningwatch Canada, and were represented by British law firm Hugh James.

“The action by the plaintiffs, who are members of the Indigenous Kurya community amongst whose villages in northern Tanzania the mine has been built, concerns brutal killings, shootings and torture that they allege were committed by police engaged to guard the mine, who local residents refer to as ‘mine police’,” RAID said regarding the new suit in a press release on Wednesday.

They are represented by the law firms Camp Fiorante Matthews Mogerman LLP and Waddell Phillips. Filed in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, the case includes claims for five deaths, five incidents of torture, and a further five injuries from shootings by the ‘mine police’, RAID reported.

This is the third lawsuit against Barrick subsidiaries for deaths and injuries at the North Mara mine. The first, commenced in 2013, was settled in 2015 by Acacia Mining.

As of 2pm EST Wednesday, Barrick had not issued a statement.

Ottawa is growing increasingly concerned about how Canadian miners do business abroad. Earlier this week, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asked Chile’s President Gabriel Boric to provide information on how much Canadian miners are complying with the South American nation’s environmental legislation.