MAC: Mines and Communities

Tanzania: Killings at North Mara gold mine

Published by MAC on 2016-09-24
Source: Miningwatch.ca, RAID, The Globe and Mail (2016-09-24)

Government acknowledges the scale of violence surrounding Acacia Mining operation

For the first time, the Tanzanian Government has acknowledged the scale of violence surrounding the North Mara Gold Mine, say MiningWatch Canada and the British NGO Rights and Accountability in Development (RAID).

An official investigation confirmed receiving claims that 65 people have been killed and 270 people injured by police responsible for mine security. According to human rights monitors and opposition sources, there have been more than 300 violent deaths at the North Mara mine since 1999. Most of the victims, pejoratively-named "intruders", are from the villages around the mine site.

Background Brief: Adding Insult to Injury at the North Mara Gold Mine, Tanzania 649 KB (PDF)

Previous on MAC:

2015-11-22 Barrick Gold Fails to Address Ongoing Violence at Tanzania Mine

2014-07-20 Killings at UK-owned Tanzanian gold mine alarm MPs

2013-07-30 African Barrick Gold sued in UK over Tanzania mine deaths

Tanzanian Government Investigation Receives Hundreds of Reports of Violence and Deaths at North Mara Gold Mine

A Tanzanian Government investigation confirms receiving claims that 65 people have been killed and 270 injured by police responsible for mine security.

http://miningwatch.ca/news/2016/9/22/tanzanian-government-investigation-receives-hundreds-reports-violence-and-deaths

22 September 2016

(Ottawa/Oxford) For the first time, the Tanzanian Government has acknowledged the scale of violence surrounding the North Mara Gold Mine, say MiningWatch Canada and the British NGO Rights and Accountability in Development (RAID) in their most recent field assessment, Adding Insult to Injury at the North Mara Mine (released today).[1] A Tanzanian Government investigation confirms receiving claims that 65 people have been killed and 270 people injured by police responsible for mine security.[2] However this may be only a fraction of the actual number of victims. According to human rights monitors and opposition sources there have been more than 300 violent deaths at the North Mara mine since 1999.[3] The government report has not been widely disseminated and a Swahili summary has only been made available in the villages closest to the mine.

In November 2014 the Tanzanian Government had warned the company about the need to act to reduce the number of fatalities at North Mara mine, which it said were partly due to corruption among the 160 officers of the Tanzanian Police Force whom Acacia employs to guard the mine site.[4] But the violence has continued.

“It is incomprehensible and deeply concerning that any corporation would tolerate such levels of abuse in pursuit of profit,” says Catherine Coumans of MiningWatch Canada, “let alone one that claims to respect international human rights standards.”

On 23 July 2016 the Tanzanian Ministry of Energy and Minerals finally revealed some of the findings of an inquiry that it had set up to investigate the long-standing problems at the North Mara Gold Mine, operated by UK-listed Acacia Mining, a majority-owned subsidiary of Barrick Gold Corporation.[5] The Committee, which also had a remit to examine complaints about land acquisition, dust and water pollution and inadequate compensation for forced relocation, visited the villages around the mine in February and March to collect evidence.[6] Opposition members of the Committee complain that the report’s findings have been watered down to protect the interests of the mine.[7] They point out that the victims include women and children killed in their homes and men taken away by police who were later reported to have died.[8] No one has been prosecuted for these crimes.

“Our research has uncovered examples where evidence has been tampered with and hospital records and post mortem reports falsified in apparent attempts to cover up the extent of mine-related deaths and injuries,” says Tricia Feeney of RAID.

Over the past three years RAID and MiningWatch Canada have collected first hand testimony (and other evidence) on 22 cases of alleged unlawful killings by police or mine security personnel, most of which have occurred since 2014. They have interviewed 21 women – some allegedly raped or beaten by police or mine employees or their husbands killed in mine-related violence; and 69 (mostly young) men who have been left with severe, life-changing injuries, allegedly after being assaulted by police or mine security personnel.

RAID and MiningWatch’s recent field assessment also examined Acacia’s operational level grievance mechanism at the North Mara mine. RAID and MiningWatch Canada have interviewed 26 claimants who allegedly suffered harm at the hands of police or mine employees and who signed settlement agreements with Acacia’s North Mara Gold Mine Limited. All have expressed their dissatisfaction with: lack of fairness in the process leading up to the agreements; deficiencies in the way in which the agreements have been implemented; and a hostile or indifferent stance adopted by grievance mechanism staff or their agents when challenged. Acacia has engaged in extensive exchanges with RAID and MiningWatch Canada over the past two years[9] and has fleshed out its procedures for dealing with complaints.[10] But recent claimants (2015-2016) complain that the mine is not dealing with their cases in a timely and consistent manner and are unclear whether the grievance mechanism at North Mara really exists.

“The whole process appears driven by a desire to limit legal liability, rather than to remedy serious human rights harms,” says Coumans.

“The grievance mechanism is a black hole. It is opaque, unpredictable, and procedurally unfair; the remedies offered are woefully inadequate,” adds Feeney.

For further information contact:


[1] RAID and MiningWatch Canada Adding Insult to Injury at the North Mara Mine, September 2016. Available at: http://miningwatch.ca/sites/default/files/adding_insult_to_injury_north_mara_0.pdf

[2] MEM ‘Mapendekezo Ya Namna Bora Ya Utekelezaji Wa Taarifa Ya Kamati Ya Kuchunguza Malamiko Kati Ya Wananchi Na Mgodi Wa Dhahabu Wa North Mara’ July 2016 (Investigating Committee’s Recommendations for the Best Means of Resolving Complaints between Citizens and the North Mara Gold Mine).

[3] Letter from John Heche, Member of Parliament, Tarime Rural Constituency to MiningWatch Canada, LHRC et al. 31.07.2016. Heche is a member of the opposition Party for Democracy and Progress (known by its Swahili acronym, Chadema).

[4] Letter from Eliakim Maswi, Permanent Secretary, Tanzanian Ministry of Energy and Minerals, to Deo Mwanyika, Vice President Africa Barrick Gold 19 November 2014. A copy of the letter was released to the 2016 Government-led Committee of Inquiry.

[5] The Committee was due to submit its report after 30 days but its findings and recommendations were only disclosed by Sospeter Muhongo, the Minister of Energy and Minerals, at meetings held in affected villages in Tarime District on 23 and 24 July. Mugini Jacob ‘Settle Disputes Out of Court’ Daily News 25 July 2016 http://www.dailynews.co.tz/index.php/home-news/52008-settle-disputes-out-of-court

[6] Beldina Nyakeke ‘Committee Set to End North Mara Gold Mine Conflicts’, The Citizen, 16 Feb 2016 http://www.thecitizen.co.tz/News/1840340-3079268-lqqq6jz/index.html

[7] Letter from John Heche MP to the Minister of Energy and Minerals, 29 July 2016 (original Swahili) RE: Major Limitations of the Committee to Resolve Disputes between Citizens and the Mine      

[8] Letter from John Heche to MiningWatch et al 31 July 2016

[9] MiningWatch Canada and RAID: ‘In Need of Repair: Acacia Mining’s Grievance Mechanism at North Mara Gold Mine, Tanzania’, May 2016. Available at: http://www.raid-uk.org/documents/memorandumtoacaciarevised-pdf

[10] Acacia Mining, Community Grievance Management and Resolution Procedures. Available at: http://www.acaciamining.com/sustainability/our-material-areas/community-relations/grievance-mechanism.aspx


Police killed 65, injured 270 at Barrick mine in Tanzania, inquiry hears

Geoffrey York

The Globe and Mail - http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/international-business/african-and-mideast-business/police-killed-65-injured-270-at-tanzanian-mine-inquiry-hears/article32013998/

Sep. 22, 2016

Tanzanian police have killed 65 people and injured 270 during years of sporadic clashes with villagers at a controversial Canadian-owned gold mine, according to evidence heard by a Tanzanian government inquiry.

The alleged number of fatalities, based on complaints given to the inquiry by local communities, is the first official estimate of the scale of reported violence at the North Mara gold mine, operated by the African subsidiary of Barrick Gold Corp.

The Toronto-based company has faced criticism for many years for the large number of violent deaths at the Tanzanian mine, where the mine has agreements with local police to provide security. Villagers routinely enter the site in search of low-grade rock, from which they can extract small bits of gold. They often clash with the police, who are accused of barring some villagers while accepting bribes from others to let them enter.

Barrick’s majority-owned subsidiary, formerly known as African Barrick Gold and now known as Acacia Mining, is based in London. It operates three major gold mines in Tanzania.

In July, in its interim results for the first half of this year, Acacia disclosed that the Tanzanian Mines Minister had appointed a commission to investigate the disputes between the North Mara mine and the local communities.

The mining company praised the commission’s report, which has been shown to local communities near North Mara. The company called it “a fair outcome for all stakeholders” but did not mention the number of fatalities and injuries that were cited in the report.

In the Swahili-language report, obtained by The Globe and Mail, the commission said it had received complaints of 355 cases of torture or other abuse by the police, 65 fatalities caused by the police and 270 injuries inflicted by the police. The complaints were given to the commission in February and March when it visited the remote region where the mine is located.

The report did not give the time period for these deaths and injuries, but the numbers appeared to date back to 2006, when Barrick acquired the North Mara mine.

In a separate confidential letter obtained by The Globe and Mail, a senior Tanzanian official told the company that the government is worried by the fatalities at North Mara, the “escalating” number of intrusions by villagers, and the reported collusion between the police and some of the trespassing villagers.

“The government cannot allow this situation to continue,” said the letter, sent to a vice-president of African Barrick Gold in November, 2014, by Eliakim Maswi, the permanent secretary of Tanzania’s Energy and Minerals Ministry.

He said the situation calls for “urgent action” from the government and other involved parties to reduce the clashes and the fatalities and injuries among the intruders and police. The intrusions were escalating, despite the presence of about 160 police at the mine site, the letter said.

Two independent activist groups, Ottawa-based MiningWatch Canada and a British group known as Rights and Accountability in Development (RAID), visited the mine site in July and August. They said the actual number of fatalities at the mine site might be much greater than the commission reported. Citing reports from opposition sources and human-rights monitors, they said there could have been more than 300 violent deaths at North Mara since 1999, including the deaths of women and children who were not trespassing on the mine site.

They alleged that hospital records and postmortem reports have sometimes been falsified to conceal the extent of the mine-related deaths and injuries. And they said their own investigation has found 22 cases of alleged unlawful killings by police or mine security personnel at the site, mostly since 2014.

“It is incomprehensible and deeply concerning that any corporation would tolerate such levels of abuse in pursuit of profit,” said a statement by Catherine Coumans of MiningWatch Canada.

Giles Blackham, investor relations manager for Acacia, declined to give any estimate of police-related deaths at the mine site since the company’s acquisition of the mine in 2006. But he said the fatalities have been “sharply decreasing” in the past three years, and only two such deaths have been recorded this year.

The commission of inquiry at North Mara “listened to uncorroborated complaints regarding police-related fatalities and injuries” and did not try to validate the complaints, Mr. Blackham said in response to questions from The Globe.

He said the company has reduced the violent clashes at North Mara by building perimeter walls around the mining areas, bringing in a specialist security contractor, improving its relations with the local communities and going underground at one of its pits to reduce the mine’s footprint and lessen its impact on the villages.

The number of intruders at the North Mara mining areas has been reduced by 99 per cent since 2011, and there has been an average of fewer than 10 intruders a month in the active mining areas this year, Mr. Blackham said.

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