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Barrick Settles UK Legal Claims Alleging Deaths, Injuries at North Mara Gold Mine

Fourteen Tanzanian citizens had accused Barrick subsidiaries in the country of alleged human rights incidents between 2014 and September 2019.

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Dar es Salaam. Barrick TZ Limited and North Mara Gold Mine Limited, local subsidiaries of the giant mining company Barrick Gold, announced late last month that they have reached a settlement of the claims by Tanzanian residents against them in their UK legal action.

In the March 27, 2023, statement, the entities said that the settlement was reached “with no admission of liability on their part,” providing no further details about the settlement’s content.

Fourteen Tanzanian citizens made claims against the two entities for alleged human rights incidents between 2014 and September 2019. Both Barrick TZ and North Mara Gold Mine Limited were defendants.

The Tanzanians alleged that the entities were legally responsible for deaths and injuries caused by the Tanzania police during security operations on or around the mine. The mine had a memorandum of understanding with the police for security under which it paid, housed and equipped the police. 

Barrick TZ Limited and North Mara Gold Mine Limited denied the allegations.

In February 2020, it was reported that Barrick wanted the claims heard in the UK courts rather than settled. In September 2023, a Barrick spokesperson described the claims as without merit, continuing, “[we] look forward to having the opportunity for the London courts to finally adjudicate this matter and put it to rest.” 

READ MORE: Acacia Spent Billions Bribing Tanzania’s Govt Officials for Years, E-mails Show

The company’s decision to settle comes over four years after the proceedings were brought forward in the UK.

RAID, a UK-based NGO that exposes corporate wrongdoing, environmental harm, and human rights abuse, has repeatedly raised concerns about human rights violations at the North Mara mine. 

In November 2022, for example, it published findings showing the reported death toll at the North Mara mine had risen to at least 77, along with 304 wounded, by police responsible for mine security, most of which occurred after Barrick acquired the mine in 2006. 

As RAID has documented, the rising number of killings and injuries ranks Barrick’s North Mara mine as one of the deadliest industrial mines in Africa in terms of security-related violence. According to Barrick’s statements on security incidents at the mine, an additional seven people have died since December 2022.

In a statement following Barrick’s announcement to settle the matter outside the court, RAID Executive Director Anneke Van Woudenberg said she welcomes any settlement that brings relief to the claimants after so many years.”

READ MORE: Barrick Reports Two New Deaths at Its North Mara Mine

“The Tanzanian claimants in this case have shown considerable resolve in their pursuit of justice and redress, especially when they were up against a gold mining giant with infinitely greater resources to fight legal battles,” she added.

This is the second settlement arising from claims in the UK alleging killings and injuries of Tanzanian residents by security forces at the North Mara mine. The first was agreed by Acacia in 2015.

Two further legal actions alleging killings and injuries by security forces at Barrick’s North Mara mine were initiated in 2022. 

One was commenced in a Canadian court against Barrick in November 2022 by 21 Tanzanian nationals alleging serious human rights violations after Barrick assumed operational control of the mine from Acacia in September 2019. Barrick says the allegations at the heart of the claim are meritless. The case is ongoing.

The other legal action was initiated in the UK in December 2022 against the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA), which has oversight of the London gold market. 

It alleges that the LBMA is liable in respect of the deaths of two artisanal miners at the mine in July and December 2019 because it certifies gold from the mine as responsibly sourced and free from serious human rights abuses. The LBMA says the claim has no merit. The case is also ongoing.

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