MAC/20: Mines and Communities

3. Report, Globe and Mail, Sept 28, 2001

Published by MAC on 2001-04-23

3. Report, Globe and Mail, Sept 28, 2001   Tanzanian mine furor grows NDP joins call for probe into alleged atrocities at site now owned by Barrick

By SHAWN MCCARTHY, PARLIAMENTARY BUREAU CHIEF

OTTAWA -- New Democratic Party Leader Alexa McDonough has joined a chorus of calls for an international investigation into allegations that peasant miners were buried alive at a Tanzanian mine site now owned by Toronto-based Barrick Gold Corp.

In the House of Commons yesterday, Ms. McDonough lent her voice to a group of Tanzanian, Canadian and American advocacy groups that are calling for an independent review of claims that 52 miners were killed in August, 1996, as part of an effort to clear artisanal miners from the area.

"This government will be aware of allegations about a Canadian company's involvement in sordid and shocking atrocities in Tanzania," Ms. McDonough said.

"The allegations are deadly serious, miners driven from their homes, miners buried alive."

However, Barrick -- which bought the mine in 1999 for $500-million -- said the allegations are simply false. Barrick counsel Pat Garver said yesterday that the Tanzanian government, the World Bank and Amnesty International have all investigated and found no evidence that miners were buried.

A spokeswoman for the World Bank said its officials conducted a thorough review of allegations when it provided $56-million in political-risk insurance when Barrick took over Vancouver-based Sutton Resources Ltd., which owned the Bulyanhulu mine at the time of the alleged incidents.

"There was nothing to substantiate the allegations," World Bank spokeswoman Moina Varkie said yesterday.

Amnesty International said, however, that it has not refuted the allegations as Barrick claims. It was unable to conduct a full-scale investigation and has called for a judicial inquiry in Tanzania, Amnesty spokesman John Tackaberry said.

In Ottawa, Tanzanian lawyer Tundu Lissu produced a video -- taped during a police inquiry shortly after the alleged incident -- in which a number of witnesses tell police about miners who were trapped underground.

In the video -- which was shot during the initial police investigation and obtained by Mr. Lissu -- officers can be seen walking from pit to pit over the hardscrabble Tanzanian terrain.

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