Barrick: LBMA to consider RAID allegations over Tanzania gold-mine deaths

By David Whitehouse
Posted on Tuesday, 29 March 2022 09:46

A worker places gold bullion on display at Hatton Garden Metals precious metal dealers in London
A worker places gold bullion on display at Hatton Garden Metals precious metal dealers in London REUTERS/Neil Hall

The London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) is studying claims made by a human-rights group over alleged killings and human-rights abuses at Barrick’s gold mine at North Mara in northern Tanzania.

The group, Rights and Accountability in Development (RAID), wrote to the LBMA on March 23 to submit a complaint under the LBMA’s review process.

RAID, which has carried out six research missions to North Mara over the last 28 months, alleges that four local residents have been killed and seven more seriously injured by police assigned to the mine since September 2019.

It states in its letter that police assigned to the mine regularly invade residential areas during mine-related operations, forcing entry into homes without a warrant, arbitrarily arresting and beating residents, and firing teargas and live ammunition.

The LBMA, the global authority for precious metals, has a set of standards on responsible gold which accredited refiners must follow.

The rules say that the LBMA will launch a formal “Incident Review” process when the LBMA becomes aware of potential serious breaches to its guidelines. “We assume the LBMA will need to launch this review process,” RAID executive director Anneke Van Woudenberg tells The Africa Report.

The LBMA “takes all allegations – such as those contained in the RAID letter – very seriously,” a spokesperson said. “We will be reviewing the letter in detail over the next few days.”

  • The MMTC-PAMP India gold refiner, which is part of the MKS Pamp Group in Switzerland and is on the LBMA’s “good delivery” list, refines gold sourced from North Mara. A host of multinationals have listed MMTC-PAMP as a supply chain refiner.
  • These include Apple, Nokia, Canon, Amazon, Cisco Systems, Lenovo, Tesla, GM, Walt Disney and Sony, according to conflict minerals reports published by the companies.

Court Order

Separately, the UK High Court in March opened consideration of a case filed against a Barrick Gold subsidiary over allegations of unlawful killings and assaults at the mine between 2014 and 2019. A 2016 Tanzanian parliamentary inquiry was told that a total of 65 people had been killed and 270 injured by police.

Many instances of violence resulted from villagers entering the site looking for rocks from which they could extract gold. Some villagers claimed that they were barred by police, while others were allowed access in return for bribes. In February 2020, seven Tanzanians in North Mara launched the legal claim.

Barrick, which took over the operation of the mine in September 2019, denies any liability, and argues that most of the grievances which it inherited have been resolved since it took over the mine. It says that Tanzanian police have always been employed by the state, not by the company, and that RAID’s claims to the contrary are false.

  • RAID “has made allegations of incidences involving the local community and the Tanzania Police that have all occurred outside the perimeter of the North Mara Gold Mine and in neighbouring villages,” Barrick said on March 14.
  • “Barrick would not normally note such incidents in our Human Rights Report as they did not occur within our mine site or under Barrick’s control nor did they involve Barrick personnel. Private companies such as North Mara Gold Mine Limited are not expected to monitor or report on day-to-day police activities outside of the mine.”

The UK High Court on March 17 instructed Barrick to conduct an exhaustive search of documentation relating to police deployment at the mine from October 2013 to September 2019.

  • Claims made by RAID for the period since September 2019 are not being considered by the court.

Understand Africa's tomorrow... today

We believe that Africa is poorly represented, and badly under-estimated. Beyond the vast opportunity manifest in African markets, we highlight people who make a difference; leaders turning the tide, youth driving change, and an indefatigable business community. That is what we believe will change the continent, and that is what we report on. With hard-hitting investigations, innovative analysis and deep dives into countries and sectors, The Africa Report delivers the insight you need.

View subscription options