MAC: Mines and Communities

African Barrick Gold sued in UK over Tanzania mine deaths

Published by MAC on 2013-07-30
Source: Bloomberg, Reuters

African Barrick Gold sued in UK over Tanzania mine deaths

Jeremy Hodges & Thomas Biesheuvel


30 July 2013

African Barrick Gold Plc was sued over the deaths and injuries of Tanzanian villagers including one incident where five men were shot and killed at the North Mara gold mine in May 2011.

At least 12 villagers filed a lawsuit in London accusing the company and North Mara Gold Mine Ltd. of using excessive force to protect the mine, according to law firm Leigh Day & Co., which represents the group. The company operates four mines in Tanzania.

"Unfortunately, these are not isolated incidents," Richard Meeran, a lawyer at Leigh Day, said in an e-mailed statement. "We are aware of many other instances in which local people have reportedly been seriously injured or killed at ABG's mine."

Foreign claimants file lawsuits in London even when the disputes have little connection to the U.K. Royal Dutch Shell Plc was sued by thousands of Nigerians in the U.K. courts in March 2012 claiming their land, rivers and wetlands were spoiled by two oil spills in the Niger River delta in 2008.

African Barrick said in a statement that the allegations stem from an incident that involved "violent intruders" who invaded the mine.

"After receiving repeated warnings of the risks associated with such activities, some of these intruders were injured by members of the Tanzanian police acting in self-defense or in defense of the safety of mine employees," the company said in the statement.

A London judge last week ruled Anglo American Plc's South African unit couldn't be sued in the U.K by hundreds of miners who blame the company for dust in African gold mines that they say caused lung disease.

The case is Magige Ghati Kesabo v African Barrick Gold Plc in the U.K. High Court of Justice, Queen's Bench Division, Case No. HQ13X02118

--Editors: Anthony Aarons

Tanzanian villagers sue African Barrick Gold over 2011 violence


30 July 2013

London - African Barrick Gold is being sued in Britain's High Court by a group of Tanzanians who say the company was complicit in the killing by police of at least six villagers at one of its mines in incidents dating back two years.

Law firm Leigh Day said on Tuesday that it was representing 12 villagers wanting compensation for incidents including one, in May 2011, when five young men were killed and others injured.

The company said in response to news of the legal action that it would not compensate illegitimate claims or lawsuits, adding that the May 2011 incident had involved violent intruders who invaded the mine while committing criminal acts.

"In the event any legal proceedings are pursued, African Barrick will vigorously defend itself against all the claims," the company said in a statement.

African Barrick had said in May 2011 that villagers were killed when police came under attack following a raid by hundreds of people at the North Mara mine about 100 km east of Lake Victoria.

Leigh Day said: "The claim alleges that the companies are liable for the deaths and injuries of local villagers, including through complicity in the killing of at least six local villagers by police,"

"It is alleged that police are an integral part of the mine's security and that they shoot at the villagers using tear gas and live ammunition," the law firm said in its statement.

The claimants say that African Barrick, a unit of the world's largest gold producer Barrick Gold Corp, failed to curb the use of excessive force at the mine.

African Barrick, which was due to release second quarter results later on Tuesday, has underperformed its rivals on the stock market and repeatedly cut output forecasts, partly due to illegal mining at the North Mara site.

The company is under pressure to deliver cost savings after a plunge in the gold price and is carrying out a review after Barrick Gold's failed attempt to sell the business to a Chinese buyer.

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