Barrick Gold Corporation said it understood that the Leigh Day law firm, in conjunction with a UK-based corporate watchdog known as RAID, has brought or intends to bring a claim in the UK against the London Bullion Market Association in connection with the alleged killings of two individuals in the vicinity of the North Mara gold mine in Tanzania by police acting on its behalf.
Barrick has however maintained that it is not a party to the proceedings.
Barrick president and chief executive Mark Bristow said the group was proud of its human rights record around the world and of North Mara’s strong working relationship with the communities around the mine. Many of the mine’s employees have been drawn from the surrounding villages and in line with Barrick’s other operations, North Mara prioritises local employment and procurement.
“While the vast majority of local residents are law-abiding, there are rogue bands, armed and well-organised, who from time to time invade North Mara to steal gold-bearing rock, presenting a serious risk to the safety of mine personnel and community members in the process,” Bristow said.
“As recently as last month, North Mara was attacked by an armed force of almost 100 men. Despite the police’s attempts to repel them, 71 managed to scale the site’s 9-metre-high perimeter wall and engaged with the mine’s unarmed security personnel. The police eventually removed them but one of the invaders suffered fatal injuries. Two of the policemen were also injured. Barrick made a public announcement about the incident at the time. This was far from being a once-off occurrence. North Mara lives with the constant threat of such invasions,” Bristow said.
Bristow said Barrick had frequently made it clear that North Mara’s security personnel are unarmed and that the mine does not supervise, direct, control or instruct any mission, assignment or function of the Tanzanian police force, which is a state institution.
Bristow said Barrick was troubled by RAID’s involvement in the litigation as that organisation had a long history of making unfounded allegations about purported human rights abuses at North Mara.
The current matter was the latest in a series of lawyer-driven litigation concerning security incidents at and around the mine. Barrick was also concerned that vulnerable members of the local communities could be persuaded to make legally meritless claims outside their country in the hope of obtaining compensation.
“RAID does not have a presence in Tanzania and has shown no inclination to visit the mine, despite the personal invitations I have extended to them, most recently in July this year. Last month a planned visit was cancelled 48 hours before RAID was expected on site. We remain willing to host such a visit so that RAID can raise their concerns with the mine’s management, the police, local administrators and community leaders. It is worth noting that in a recent meeting we had with the leaders of the eleven villages around North Mara, they said they had no knowledge of RAID or the work it purports to do in their communities, and rejected the organisation allegations as baseless,” Bristow said.
Many of the mine’s workers are drawn from neighbouring villages — in line with Barrick’s other operations, North Mara prioritises local employment — and the mine has a good relationship with its community, which it supports through continuing investment in healthcare, education and infrastructure development projects.