MAC: Mines and Communities

Frank Timis - naked "emperor" with blood-stained clothes

Published by MAC on 2018-03-15
Source: AFP, Salone News, Standard Times (2018-03-15)

A UK Court has agreed to hear a lawsuit against a former London-listed iron ore company, owned by dollar billionaire Frank Timis - a man dubbed by one African reporter as  "Crowned Emperor of West African Resources" (see article below).

Although the indicted company was previously a subsidiary of Timis' African Minerals Ltd (AML, headquartered in London before it went into administration in 2015), the court has taken the unprecedented step of  sending a British judge to Sierra Leone and interviewing 142 villagers who are plaintiffs in the case.

The outcome will be attentively followed - not only by Sierra Leonians - but also thousands of rural dwellers in Zambia settlements, currently suing London-listed Vedanta Resources in the UK for polluting their water resources and contaminating the air - and hoping to see a favourable outcome later this year (For earlier report, see: Vedanta meets its match at 017 AGM).

As for the arrogant, blustering, Romanian-born Timis - just glance at his recent record:

* He was indicted for tax dodging in the Panama papers released in 2016 (See: Mining deals revealed in the Panama papers).

* His Pan African Minerals was physically attacked in 2015 by citizens, angered at what they claimed was its illegal acquisition of a huge manganese deposit in Burkina Faso  (See: Revolt rocks Burkina Faso).

But it's Timis' human rights abuses in Sierra Leone that threaten to finally bring the conniving emperor down, as described in a recent indictment broadcast on the BBC World Service:

Sierra Leone: Blood Mining

Assignment

BBC World Service (radio)

March 2018

In 2010, a UK-listed company began developing a mining concession in Sierra Leone it said could transform the economic fortunes of the local population. But instead of benefiting the most immediate communities, hundreds found their homes destroyed, their livelihoods uprooted.

And among the people who protested, many found themselves violently beaten and detained, and in one or two cases shot at and killed. Ed Butler investigates some of the untold stories of one of west Africa’s most dramatic recent abuses of corporate power.

We hear from those who suffered, investigate allegations of police brutality, and look at the supposedly well-regulated system of corporate governance which was supposed to prevent abuses taking place.

Presenter: Ed Butler
Producer: Anna Meisel
Editor: Penny Murphy

Listen to this piece on: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w3csvp05

Landmark case against British mining firm begins in Sierra Leone

British high court convenes on foreign soil for first time as evidence is heard of Tonkolili Iron Ore Ltd’s alleged complicity in police brutality

AFP

8 February 2018

A British court has heard testimony of the alleged complicity of a British mining company in police brutality including rape, in an unusual hearing held in Sierra Leone.

Hearings in the civil case, brought by 142 claimants seeking damages from Tonkolili Iron Ore Ltd, began this week in Freetown, in what is believed to be the first British high court case heard overseas.

Judge Mark Turner said in a previous hearing in London that he wanted to meet the claimants in person.

British courts agreed to hear the lawsuit because the iron ore producer was previously a subsidiary of African Minerals Ltd (AML), which was headquartered in London before it went into administration in 2015.

The court heard testimony from a woman who said she was picked up by police and company workers at her village near the mine while selling oranges in Bumbuna, northern Sierra Leone, in 2010.

“I was molested, beaten and dragged to a waiting vehicle, they tore my clothes and raped me,” the woman told the court. She was two months pregnant at the time and miscarried shortly afterwards, she said.

The claimants argue that the company effectively oversaw policing of its mine and surrounding areas where protests turned deadly in two incidents in 2010 and 2012.

Villagers allegedly set up a roadblock to keep the company off their land in 2012, only to be faced with police who opened fire.

Witness Yusif Koroma said he saw an AML worker with the police “while they were firing bullets, and chasing villagers to arrest them”.

The court is later due to hear of the fatal shooting by police of a 24-year-old female during a protest over working conditions and pay during the 2012 incident.

Astrid Perry, a lawyer in the international claims team at Leigh Day, who is representing the villagers, said Sierra Leone’s attorney general, Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara, backed the hearing being held in Sierra Leone.

Legal teams from both sides will cross-examine the witnesses during two weeks of testimony.

Tonkolili Iron Ore Ltd, which is now a subsidiary of China-based Shandong Iron and Steel Group Co Ltd, denies liability for the incidents.

The company claims that it has no responsibility for the actions of the police, according to Leigh Day.


142 Sierra Leoneans sue African Minerals in London

Salone News

28 January 2018

Commentary

By Hassan Morlai, Freetown, Sierra Leone*

A Sierra Leonean company, Tonkolili Iron Ore (SL) Ltd and its former parent company in England, African Minerals Ltd, have been sued by 142 Sierra Leoneans in a court in England for complicity in human rights violations in northern Sierra Leone. If they succeed, each of the 142 claimants will receive £30,000 (the equivalent of Le Le229,500,000.00). A High Court Judge, Mr Justice Turner and the legal teams of both the claimants and defendants from England are expected in Sierra Leone on Monday, 29 January 2018.

This is the first time such a visit by an English court judge will be conducted an extended trial in Sierra Leone to take testimonies and evidence from victims of human rights abuses and to visit the sites of alleged abuses. The visit to Sierra Leone is necessary because the British High Commission in Freetown refused to grant visas to some of the claimants to travel to England to attend the court hearings in their case (Kadie Kalma & Others v Tonkolili Iron Ore (SL) Limited & Others).

The 142 Sierra Leonean claimants are claiming for personal injury and false imprisonment against Tonkolili Iron Ore Ltd and African Minerals Ltd. A separate number of 101 Sierra Leonean claimants have already had their claims settled by agreement and each received not less than £4,500 (which is about Le48,733,400). The legal fees for counsel, experts, witnesses, interpreters, air tickets, accommodation and other expenses are simply put very huge: The total approved budget for the Sierra Leonean claimants is £5.4 million, and for the defendants is £2.9 million. All of these monies are for one case; therefore respect for the law and ensuring justice for all, is indeed, not cheap!

What are the chances that these Sierra Leoneans will succeed in their claim in an English court?

Well this is not the first time victims of human rights abuses have taken their cases to an English court. So Sierra Leone is only catching up with what has already happened elsewhere.

For example, in Zambia, workers and local community people near a copper mine operated by a Zambian company and owned by an English company successfully sued in an English court and were awarded damages. So the case of Lungowe & Others v Vedanta Resources Plc & Konkola Copper Mines Plc [2013] EWCA Civ 1528 will be a useful precedent for the Sierra Leonean claimants.

In this case, the companies were sued for personal injury, damage to property, and loss of income, amenity and enjoyment of land due to pollution and environmental damage caused by toxic discharges from the mine operated by Konkola Copper Mines Plc (KCM), a Zambian company owned by KCM, a holding company in England.

One interesting point to note is that the solicitors’ firm, Leigh Day that represented the Zambians in Lungowe is the same law firm that is representing the 142 Sierra Leoneans.

Human rights activists in Sierra Leone who support communities affected by operations of companies in the mining, agriculture and other sectors should consider the decision in Lungowe as very helpful. Those 142 Sierra Leoneans currently pursuing claims against Tonkolili Iron Ore Ltd and African Minerals Ltd will also find this judgment as useful.

For companies in Sierra Leone, it is not all doom and gloom.

In fact the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone has issued very helpful guidelines to help businesses to make their operations human rights compliant. A company in Sierra Leone that fully employs the Human Rights Commission’s “Guidelines for Monitoring Business and Human Rights in Sierra Leone” is able to make a strong argument that they have taken appropriate steps to comply with applicable human rights guidelines in their operations.

Whether this will be sufficient to fully absolve or mitigate a company’s liability for human rights abuses will only tell in future court cases. In the meantime, Sierra Leoneans should come to terms with the fact that economic, social and cultural rights are gradually becoming justiciable rights which courts are now being bold to uphold and award damages for their breach.

⃰The views expressed in this article are the personal opinion of the writer and have nothing to do with his official capacity as a public service official.


Frank Timis invades Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso

…Crowned Emperor of West African resources

Standard Times

12 March 2018

The African mining landscape is about to change for good. Two West African countries will soon see a complete overhaul of their socio-economic circumstances, as the Governments in Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso have both consented to give Pan African Minerals (Timis Corporation), the rights to upgrade and refurbish the rail line between the two countries.

The increased rail capacity will support growth in the foodstuff and livestock industries, and support the establishment of the largest Manganese deposit in the world. Following successful operations in Sierra Leone, under African Minerals and in Liberia under African Petroleum, Pan African Minerals, the new bright star of the Timis Corporation is taking on new challenges.

The people of Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso have something to smile about; their communities are about to witness a dramatic shift in momentum around them, a shift that will bring about opportunities and change, the creation of jobs and infrastructure and the creation of wealth for their nations.

Frank Timis has demonstrated he is a man who gets things done, you need only look at Sierra Leone; The Tonkolili Project was developed after being rediscovered by Frank Timis after others had tried and failed to get the project to production. But Frank Timis did and in record time – 30 months from exploration to first production – one of the fastest infrastructure projects in Africa.

The Tonkolili project involved building a 25 mtpa port and mine operation, 220km of rail; an investment of $2.5bn to date and employment of approximately 15000- member workforce during the construction process, majority of them being Sierra Leonean nationals. The company’s projects have directly and indirectly created employment of over ten thousand jobs and brought stability to the region. Frank Timis has ensured that his Companies follow his philanthropic values and has continued to support communities by enhancing their standards of living through numerous community projects; schools, hospitals, health clinics, clean water projects as well as thousands of scholarships awarded to students.

The Chairman of the Timis Corporation has just returned from a tour of West Africa, where he held a joint meeting with the Presidents of the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso. Following positive and productive discussions, Timis Corporation will soon engage in projects that will facilitate the trade and movement of basic commodities between the two countries. The existing rail line has been allowed to deteriorate over the last 15 years by Bollore Group and now the Timis Corporation will undertake refurbishment of the 1400km of rail line across Burkina Faso and Cote d’Ivoire.

Unlike other investment companies who do not take their moral obligations seriously, Frank Timis has ensured that his group of companies operating across Africa, takes seriously their commitment to transform the lives of the communities they work in. There’s a hands on approach to the welfare of the people. Health centers are built, buildings for schools are erected, access roads are constructed, and trade across regions is enhanced. Timis Corporation has also been instrumental in facilitating hundreds of thousands of pounds of sponsorship of Christians and Muslim pilgrims to their holy land particularly during the holy months of Ramadan and Lent.

The charity Street Child of Sierra Leone has been the beneficiary of Frank Timis’ generosity as he embarks on social projects to get children off the streets into vocational training and by creating employment opportunities for them within his organisation. Timis’ philanthropic efforts are ever present in communities that have come to appreciate the direct involvement he brings into every major national event that calls for wider participation and involvement. Nation building has become synonymous with the Timis Corporation’s effort to leave a solid legacy in all counties its group of companies has presence in. The company now operates in several countries in West Africa, including Sierra Leone, Cote d’Ivore, Senegal, Gambia, Liberia, Niger and Burkina Faso.

Collectively, the Timis Corporation has invested in excess of $4.5Bn in mining and oil exploration and development in West Africa, showing serious commitment to the region. Thousands of West Africans are employed across its operations, which makes the Group’s companies the largest employers of local skilled and unskilled labour in West Africa.

Through his track record, Frank Timis, has shown why African governments have established an open-door policy when it comes to his investment initiatives.

Pan African Minerals will take the Timis Corporation to new heights and bring further success and development to the West African Region, continuing the wave of positive change for the people. Simply put; he is a man who delivers

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