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Tanzanian group launches legal action in UK against Barrick

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

On Friday, seven Tanzanian citizens launched a legal claim at the British High Court against a subsidiary of Barrick Gold, alleging human rights abuses by security forces at the company’s North Mara mine.

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

The claims by members of the community living near the mine were made against Barrick Tz Limited, formerly Acacia Mining, which operated the mine from 2010 until 2019. In 2019, Barrick bought out the minority shareholders of Acacia and delisted the company from the London and Dar es Salaam Stock Exchanges.

The group was assisted by RAID, a UK based corporate watchdog, and MiningWatch Canada, and represented by British law firm Hugh James.

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

MiningWatch Canada and RAID documented 22 killings and 69 injuries at or near the mine from 2014 to 2016, while a 2016 Tanzanian parliamentary inquiry received reports of 65 killed and 270 injured by police jointly responsible for mine security. From 2014 to 2017, Acacia itself acknowledged six deaths relating to the use of force against intruders and/or police involvement and 28 other instances of what the company termed ‘intruder fatalities.’ 

Mark Bristow, CEO of Barrick Gold, told South African publication Miningmx last week that Acacia was fundamentally “… an irresponsibly-run business and it was not properly managed.”

According to Miningmx, Bristow was primarily referring to claims lodged by the Tanzanian government that Acacia owed it billions of dollars in unpaid taxes which he said was “… a measure of the desperation felt” by the Tanzanian government.

In January, Barrick and the Tanzanian government settled the dispute. Barrick paid $300m in outstanding taxes and gave the state 16% stakes in three gold mines in exchange for lifting an export ban on its concentrates.