Tanzanians sue African gold mining firms over deaths in 2011 – by John Vidal (The Guardian – July 31, 2013)


Villagers accuse African Barrick Gold and North Mara Gold Mine over killing of at least six people

Tanzanian villagers are suing two African gold mining companies after six people were killed by police and others injured.

On Monday, Leigh Day, the London law firm, served a claim on behalf of 12 villagers against African Barrick Gold (ABG), one of Africa’s largest mining companies, and North Mara Gold Mine (NMGM), to highlight the allegedly serious human rights situation at the mine.

The claim alleges that the companies are liable for the deaths and injuries of villagers, including the killing of at least six men by police.

According to Leigh Day, villagers often try to gather rocks in the vicinity of the mine in the hope of finding small amounts of gold. “Police, which are an integral part of the mine’s security, allegedly shoot at the villagers using tear gas and live ammunition,” said Richard Meeran, a partner at the law firm.

The claims relate to several incidents, including one in which five men were shot dead in May 2011. The villagers allege the mine and NMGM, which are operated by African Barrick Gold, “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”.

Meeran said: “Unfortunately, these are not isolated incidents. We are aware of dozens of other instances in which local people have been seriously injured or killed by police at ABG’s mine.”

ABG, owned by Toronto-based Barrick Gold, the world’s largest gold-mining company, said it was saddened by any injury or loss of life at its operations “but we will not compensate illegitimate claims or lawsuits”.

It added: “The majority of the claims in this case originate from an incident [which] involved violent intruders who invaded the mine in the course of committing criminal acts. After receiving repeated warnings of the risks associated with such activities, some of these intruders were injured by members of the Tanzanian police acting in self-defence or in defence of the safety of mine employees.

For the rest of this article, click here: http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2013/jul/30/tanzania-african-gold-mining-deaths-barrick