MAC: Mines and Communities

High Court orders African Barrick Gold to stop suing Tanzanian villagers

Published by MAC on 2013-12-11
Source: Statements, Alliance News (2013-12-04)

High Court orders African Barrick Gold to stop suing Tanzanian villagers

Leigh Day Press Release

4 December 2013

London-based African Barrick Gold (ABG) failed yesterday to overturn a High Court injunction that prevents them from using what the judge described as a "Tanzanian Torpedo" against victims of violence.

Law firm, Leigh Day, represents Tanzanian villagers who claim that ABG and its 100% subsidiary, North Mara Gold Mine Limited (NMGML) are liable for the deaths and injuries allegedly caused by the use of excessive force by mine security and police at the companies' mine in Tanzania. Both companies deny the allegations.

The claimants include the relatives of six men who were killed at the mine-site and one man who has been left paraplegic.

Proceedings against the companies were commenced on 28 March 2013 in the UK High Court on behalf of the villagers. Despite knowing that proceedings had been commenced in England, in July 2013 NMGML issued proceedings in Tanzania, asking the local court to declare that the company could not be liable for the actions of the police. However, according to Leigh Day, this is an issue already before the English court.

Richard Meeran from Leigh Day, who is representing the villagers, explained: "The first time we were aware of these legal proceedings in Tanzania was when, out of the blue, our clients were served with legal papers on their doorstep.

"These papers demanded that our clients, who do not have Tanzanian lawyers, promptly appear before a court that is some 1200 kilometres and a two-day bus ride away from where they live."

Upon learning of the companies' pre-emptive strike, Leigh Day sought the assistance of the English Court and successfully obtained an anti-suit injunction that stopped ABG and NMGML from taking forward their legal action in Tanzania.

The order was made in the absence of the companies. It was this order, which was maintained in yesterday's hearing. In a judgment handed down yesterday, Mr Justice Green found that there was no need for the companies to have launched their pre-emptive strike, which he termed a "Tanzanian Torpedo", when they did and without notice to either the claimants in the English action, Leigh Day, or the English Court.

The judge ordered ABG and NMGML to pay the costs incurred by the claimants in having to respond to their pre-emptive strike. "We are very pleased that the English Court has shown its disapproval of the efforts of ABG and its subsidiaries to try and obtain an unfair advantage over our clients." said Meeran.

Further Information

The legal action against ABG was the subject of a recent debate in the House of Lords. On 26 November 2013, Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead asked Conservative Peer, Lord Ahmed of Wimbledon, whether the Government was "aware that African Barrick Gold, which is a British company, has continued to rely on the Tanzanian police to provide security at the North Mara goldmine, despite the shocking number of gunshot deaths and injuries to local people".

Several other members of the House of Lords also questioned the Government about its response to the human rights situation at the mine. Further information is available to download here. [3]

The North Mara mine sits in the midst of seven villages in northern Tanzania. Desperately impoverished villagers often attempt to gather rocks at the mine in the hope of finding tiny amounts of gold. 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 claims relate to incidents occurring over the last three years, including one in which five young men were shot and killed on 16 May 2011. The claimants allege that the mine and NMGML are controlled by ABG and that ABG failed to curb the use of excessive force at the mine, including deadly force used by police on a regular basis over a protracted period of time.

ABG is majority-owned by the world's largest gold producer, Barrick Gold Corporation, which has faced allegations of extreme violence, including gang rape, at its mining operations in Papua New Guinea. Allegations of sexual assault at the North Mara Mine in Tanzania have also surfaced.

Two years ago, Barrick announced that ABG had launched a full investigation [4] into what it called "credible" allegations of sexual assault at the North Mara mine. The results of the investigation have
never been released.

ABG's website states "we must guide our conduct by the highest standards of honesty, integrity and ethical behaviour".


Links:
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[1] http://www.leighday.co.uk/News/2013/December-2013/High-Court-orders-African-Barrick-Gold-to-stop-sui
[2] http://t.co/Nnae2FYf66
[3] http://www.leighday.co.uk/LeighDay/media/LeighDay/documents/Tanzania/House-of-Lords-debate-26-11-13.docx
[4] http://www.barrick.com/investors/news/news-details/2011/North-Mara-Mine-Tanzania/default.aspx
[5] http://www.brainandspinalinjuries.co.uk
[6] http://www.leighday.co.uk


Tanzanian villagers claim abuse of legal process by African Barrick Gold

High Court to decide if injunction remains in place against London-based African Barrick Gold to prevent 'abuse of the English court process'

http://www.leighday.co.uk/News/2013/December-2013/Tanzanian-villagers-claim-abuse-of-process-by-Brit

3 December 2013

Leigh Day will go to the High Court today (Tuesday 3 December) to ensure an injunction remains in place against London-based African Barrick Gold (ABG) to prevent the company from what lawyers have alleged was an abuse of the English court process.

Leigh Day represents Tanzanian villagers who claim that ABG and its 100% subsidiary, North Mara Gold Mine Limited (NMGML), are liable to compensate them for deaths and injuries allegedly caused by the use of excessive force by mine security and police at the companies' mine in Tanzania.

Both companies deny the allegations.

The claimants include the relatives of six men who were killed at the mine-site and one man who has been left paraplegic.

Proceedings were commenced on 28 March 2013 in the UK High Court on behalf of the villagers. Despite knowing this, in July 2013 the companies issued proceedings in Tanzania trying to have the local court determine overlapping legal issues.

The purpose of the summonses was to have the Tanzanian court determine whether the companies could be liable for the actions of the police. However according to the villagers' lawyers, Leigh Day, this is an issue already before the English court.

Richard Meeran from Leigh Day, who is representing the villagers, explained:

"The first time we were aware of these legal proceedings in Tanzania was when, out of the blue, our clients were served with legal papers on their doorstep.

"These papers demanded our clients appear in a Dar es Salaam court, which is over 1200 kilometres and a two-day bus ride away from where they live. This was a pre-emptive legal strike by this very powerful company to try and obtain an unfair advantage over our clients."

In August 2013 Leigh Day successfully applied for an anti-suit injunction restraining ABG and NMGML from taking the legal action forward in Tanzania on the grounds that the case is to be heard in a UK Court. This order was made in the absence of the companies.

Monday's hearing at which the companies will be represented, will determine whether this injunction will remain in place.

The legal action against ABG was the subject of a recent debate in the House of Lords. On 26 November 2013, Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead asked Conservative Peer, Lord Ahmed of Wimbledon, whether the Government was "aware that African Barrick Gold, which is a British company, has continued to rely on the Tanzanian police to provide security at the North Mara goldmine, despite the shocking number of gunshot deaths and injuries to local people".

Several other members of the House of Lords also questioned the Government about its response to the human rights situation at the mine.

The Government's replies to the questions indicated a lack of awareness of African Barrick Gold, calling it a Canadian company despite the company running its business from its registered office in London, where it is also listed on the London Stock Exchange.

Further information:

The North Mara mine sits in the midst of seven villages in northern Tanzania. Desperately impoverished villagers often attempt to gather rocks at the mine in the hope of finding tiny amounts of gold. 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 claims relate to incidents occurring over the last three years, including one in which five young men were shot and killed on 16 May 2011.

The claimants allege that the mine and NMGML are controlled by ABG and that ABG failed to curb the use of excessive force at the mine, including deadly force used by police on a regular basis over a protracted period of time.

ABG is majority-owned by the world's largest gold producer, Barrick Gold Corporation, which has faced allegations of extreme violence, including gang rape, at its mining operations in Papua New Guinea. Allegations of sexual assault at the North Mara Mine in Tanzania have also surfaced. Two years ago, Barrick announced that ABG had launched a full investigation into what it called "credible" allegations of sexual assault at the North Mara mine. The results of the investigation have never been released.


African Barrick Gold Says Environmental Protection Order Lifted In Tanzania

Alliance News

10 December 2013

LONDON - African Barrick Gold PLC Tuesday said it has completed the final step in the process towards the lifting of an Environmental Protection Order at its North Mara site in Tanzania.

The Tanzanian gold production company said it has also received the receipt of a formal discharge permit from the Lake Victoria Water Board relating to the EPO which has been in place since 2009, following the completion of an extensive joint water-sampling programme, rehabilitation of affected areas, a community-awareness programme, and the commissioning of a water-treatment plant at the mine.

The removal of the EPO now allows the gold miner to discharge treated water from the mine?s water treatment plant.

African Barrick Gold also said it has seen progress on the recovery of VAT receivables from Tanzanian tax authorities. It said it received USD4.8 million in early October, USD3.1 million later in October, and a further USD5.2 million in November.

The company added that it received the first disbursement of USD2 million from the escrow facility in relation to VAT on imports for July 2013, and said it was working to ensure further disbursements occur on a monthly basis going forward.

African Barrick Gold shares were up 1.7% to 159.70 pence Tuesday.

By Tom McIvor; tommcivor@alliancenews.com; @TomMcIvor1

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