Canada mines discontent among the poor of Africa – Linda McQuaig (Toronto Star – June 7, 2011)

The Toronto Star, which has the largest circulation in Canada, has an enormous impact on Canada’s federal and provincial politics as well as shaping public opinion. lmcquaig@sympatico.ca

While Canadians may think of ourselves as best known for owning the Olympic podium, among Africans we may actually be better known — and not particularly liked — for owning their natural resources.

Once beloved on the continent, Canada is no longer so fondly regarded in Africa.

The new, less enthusiastic view of Canada was vividly illustrated last month when more than 1,500 desperately poor Tanzanian villagers picked up machetes, rocks and hammers and stormed the mining compound of Canadian-owned African Barrick Gold.

The uprising — leading to the shooting deaths of seven of the villagers by police and security forces at the mine — is a startling reminder that theories widely held in the West about the benefits of foreign investment for the developing world are not always shared by people on the receiving end.

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Statement from Barrick Gold Corporation concerning the North Mara Mine, Tanzania (May 30, 2011)

Introduction

Barrick Gold Corporation, and its affiliates and subsidiaries, operate in some of the most challenging environments in the world. Among Barrick’s operations and affiliates, the Mara region of Tanzania, in which African Barrick Gold (ABG) owns and operates the North Mara mine, is especially challenging. The North Mara mine is located in a very remote, underdeveloped part of the country in close proximity to the Kenyan border. In-migration from other areas and countries is rampant and law enforcement capacity is limited, making the area a magnet for transients, criminals and organized crime. Civil unrest due to poverty is a particular problem in the area, a fact widely recognized by Tanzanian authorities.

The vast majority of people living near North Mara share the same desire for security and safety as ABG and its employees. To that end, ABG is working with Tanzanian authorities to address a variety of issues that impact the community, particularly related to law and order. The end goal is to make this area safer for residents of the community and for the men and women who work at the mine.

The Investigation

It is against this background that ABG recently notified Barrick that it had received highly disturbing allegations of sexual assaults by the police and ABG security against local women. Following recent events at the Porgera Joint Venture in Papua New Guinea, employees have a heightened sensitivity to these issues. ABG has also been pursuing enhancements to its human rights program generally, in parallel to Barrick commencing its new human rights compliance program. Employees raised these allegations to external investigators retained by ABG to inquire into an unrelated matter.

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Claims of sexual abuses in Tanzania blow to Barrick Gold – by Geoffrey York (Globe and Mail – May 31, 2011)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous impact and influence on Canada’s political and business elite as well as the rest of the country’s print, radio and television media.

“These deplorable crimes, if confirmed, are neither acceptable nor excusable.
They send a clear message to us that we have not met the promises we have
made to the community, and to ourselves, to pursue responsible mining in every
location where we and our affiliates operate. We can, and will, do more.”
(Barrick statement to The Globe and Mail)

NORTH MARA, TANZANIA – Just two weeks after the fatal shooting of seven people at one of its Tanzanian gold mines, Barrick Gold Corp. is investigating allegations of sexual assault by about a dozen police and security guards at the same violence-plagued mine.

The Toronto-based corporate giant, the world’s biggest gold miner, is already reeling from allegations of gang rape by its security guards at another of its subsidiaries, in Papua New Guinea.

The deaths and alleged abuses at the Barrick sites, which began years ago but failed to gain wide attention until recently, are accelerating Barrick’s efforts to introduce stronger rules for investigating human-rights problems at its 26 mines around the world. The latest case comes as investors have been urging Canadian companies operating overseas in tough and lawless environments to push for more transparency instead of tolerating human-rights abuses.

Barrick recently became the first Canadian mining company to sign up to the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights, an international set of guidelines for extractive industries, which oblige it to investigate and report any credible information about human-rights abuses at its workplaces.

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[Toronto Star freelance] Journalist deported for investigating [Barrick] mine massacre – by Jocelyn Edwards (Toronto Star – May 29, 2011)

The Toronto Star, which has the largest circulation in Canada, has an enormous impact on Canada’s federal and provincial politics as well as shaping public opinion.

But local leaders accuse the company of complicity in the conduct of the police,
because it employs officers to provide mine security, and allege that African Barrick
is benefiting from it. (Jocelyn Edwards)  “A community that has been intimidated is a
community that can’t demand its rights from the company.” (Tanzanian MP Tundu Lissu)

Reporter for the Star questioned in Tanzania as string of arrests follows deaths at Barrick site

KAMPALA, UGANDA—Given that I had been followed around the tiny town for two days by men in ’80s-style wraparound sunglasses, it wasn’t really a surprise to me when I finally got arrested last Thursday in northern Tanzania.

I had gone to the East African nation to investigate the deaths of five villagers gunned down at a mine in North Mara belonging to African Barrick, a subsidiary of Toronto-based mining giant Barrick Gold Corp. Barrick said the men killed by security forces — initial reports had pegged the death toll at seven — were “intruders.” Family members of the victims said the gold-laced stones the men routinely collected at the mine were their only means of survival.

Trucks of police in full riot gear patrolled the streets of Tarime, the town nearest the mine. The situation was tense and relatives of the deceased were huddled together in a compound.

Tuesday morning, I woke up and found the room next to mine empty. The environmental and human rights lawyer who had been staying there had been arrested, along with seven other people who had been guarding the bodies of the victims at the town mortuary.

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Canadian Mining in Africa: “Do As You Please” Approach Comes at High Cost – by Bonnie Campbell (Canadian Dimension – Jan/Feb 2011)

Canadian Dimension is a Canadian leftist magazine founded in 1963 by Cy Gonick and published out of Winnipeg, Manitoba six times a year.

Bonnie Campbell is a professor of political economy at the Department of Political Science at the University of Québec in Montreal where she heads the Research Chair C.-A. Poissant on Governance and Aid for Development.

While Canadian miners have expanded to all continents, Africa now accounts for about 17 percent of Canadian mining assets abroad, up from 11 percent in 2001. Next to South African investments, companies registered on Canadian stock exchanges now represent the most important source of investment in mining in Africa. From a total amount of C$ 2.87 billion in 2001 and $6.0 billion in 2005, Canadian mining investment in Africa exceeded $23.6 billion in 2010. The trend illustrating the growing presence of Canadian companies in Africa is given in Graph 1 and the 2010 distribution of assets by countries in Graph 2. The country distribution of that investment and the minerals concerned as of December 2008 are in the pictures above.

The map shows that 91% of Canadian investments are concentrated in eight countries, with the order of countries’ importance being the following: South Africa (25.6%), DR Congo (17.8%), Madagascar (13.8%), Zambia (9.9%), Tanzania (9.5%), Ghana (6.5%), Burkina Faso (4.7%) and Mauritania (3%).

Issues of violence, environmental damage and human rights abuses abound in mineral rich Africa and according to a 2009 report produced by the Canadian Centre for the Study of Resource Conflict, Canadian mining companies have been the most significant group involved in such violations.

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Barrick Gold’s May 19th and 25th Web Responses to Seven Tanzanian Deaths

North Mara’s 2010 Responsibility Report (PDF): click here

Recent police action at North Mara, Tanzania

Update May 25, 2011 — There is a great deal of misinformation circulating in the local community at North Mara, and being reported by media. Barrick and African Barrick Gold have been unable to verify a number of allegations circulating involving Tanzanian police activity. The police are the appropriate authority to confirm or deny those allegations. We are continuing to focus our efforts on re-establishing a constructive dialogue with the local community and also continuing our efforts to work together to improve the situation in the area surrounding our property.

Further updates and information will be provided as required.

Message concerning recent police action at North Mara

May 19, 2011 — The recent violent confrontation and loss of life at African Barrick Gold’s (ABG) North Mara mine is deeply concerning to Barrick and ABG. African Barrick Gold is working with the Tanzanian government and police to address this situation.

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Bodies of men shot at Barrick mine stolen and dumped by police: families – by Jocelyn Edwards (Toronto Star – May 25, 2011)

The Toronto Star, which has the largest circulation in Canada, has an enormous impact on Canada’s federal and provincial politics as well as shaping public opinion. This article was originally published May 25, 2011.

Grim  warning near African Barrick mine

TARIME, TANZANIA – It was on the side of a dirt road in northern Tanzania that relatives found a coffin containing the body of Emmanuel Magige on Tuesday morning.

The 27-year-old man was one of seven people killed and more than 12 injured on May 16 when villagers at African Barrick’s mine in northern Tanzania clashed with security forces.

Late Monday night, police stormed a mortuary in the small northern town of Tarime and removed bodies belonging to four of the dead in a bid to prevent a memorial planned at the mine for Tuesday, witnesses said. After finding the bodies of the victims forcibly returned to their villages, families instead held small burial services at their homes in the afternoon.

“It was inhuman. They did this like animals,” said Magige’s 20-year-old wife, Mary.

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Memorial for dead banned at Canadian [Barrick] gold mine in Africa – by Jocelyn Edwards (Toronto Star – May 24, 2011)

The Toronto Star, which has the largest circulation in Canada, has an enormous impact on Canada’s federal and provincial politics as well as shaping public opinion. This article was originally published May 24, 2011.

TARIME, TANZANIA—Families of the five men killed by security forces of a Canadian mine are furious after that were denied permission to hold a memorial service Tuesday at African Barrick’s gold mine in North Mara.

“When you have lost your loved ones and you are in a grieving period, for someone to do this to you, it is not right. It would be better if they would take you too,” said Magige Gati, whose 27-year-old son Emmanuel Magige was among the dead.

Five men were killed, and at least a dozen injured, when about 800 locals clashed with security on May 16 at a mine in the area owned by African Barrick, a subsidiary of Toronto-based Barrick Gold Corporation.

The clash is the latest episode in an ongoing conflict between residents of North Mara, who come to the mine to scavenge for gold and Barrick, which took over the mine in 2006.

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Barrick Gold: Controlling fallout from deadly clash [7 Tanzanian deaths]- Lisa Wright (Toronto Star – May 21, 2011)

Lisa Wright is a business reporter with the Toronto Star, which has the largest circulation in Canada. The paper has an enormous impact on Canada’s federal and provincial politics as well as shaping public opinion. This article was originally published May 21, 2011.

Stan Sudol, a communications consultant and mining industry blogger,
recommends that the Canadian government establish a fact-finding mission,
headed by a respected, retired, non-partisan individual, to go to Tanzania
“to shed light on this incident. It’s the only way to get credibility back to
the Canadian mining sector. No one is going to believe any report coming
from Barrick or the Tanzanian government,” he says. (Toronto Star, May 21, 2011)

Two words instantly come to mind in cynical business circles when a tragedy occurs under a big company’s watch: damage control. Barrick Gold Corp. landed in a firestorm of controversy last week when seven villagers were gunned down and a dozen more were injured in a brutal clash at its troubled North Mara mine in Tanzania, run by its African Barrick Gold division.

Though Barrick spun off its higher-cost African assets last year to the newly-created London-based firm, the Toronto bullion behemoth remains the majority owner.

And since Barrick’s name is literally on it, the Toronto headquarters is forced to wear — and ultimately repair — the hit to its global brand, and it won’t be easy, say industry watchers and public relations experts.

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A Golden Opportunity: How Tanzania is Failing to Benefit from Gold Mining – by Mark Curtis and Tundu Lissu (October 2008)

Published by the Christian Council of Tanzania (CCT), National Council of Muslims in Tanzania (BAKWATA), and Tanzania Espicopal Conference (TEC) – Financed by Norwegian Church Aid and Christian Aid

A Golden Opportunity: How Tanzania is Failing to Benefit from Gold Mining (October 2008)

Executive Summary

Gold mining is the fastest growing sector of Tanzania’s economy. Minerals now account for nearly half the country’s exports and Tanzania is Africa’s third largest gold producer. Yet ordinary Tanzanians are not benefiting from this boom both because the government has implemented tax laws that are overly favourable to multinational mining companies and because of the practices of these companies. Tanzania is being plundered of its natural resources and wealth.

Between 1997 and 2005, Tanzania exported gold worth more than US$2.54 billion (bn). The government has received around $28m a year in royalties and taxes on these exports, amounting to just 10 per cent over the nine year period. The 3 per cent royalty has brought the government only an average of US$17.4m a year in recent years. Raising the royalty rate to, say, 5 per cent would have increased government revenues by around US$58m over the past five years.

We calculate that Tanzania has lost at least $265.5m in recent years as a result of an excessively low royalty rate, government tax concessions that allow companies’ to avoid paying corporation tax and possibly even tax evasion by some companies if allegations are true. This is a very conservative estimate, in that it does not cover all the gold mining companies or all figures for recent years (which are not publicly available). Neither does it cover the financial costs of other tax incentives such as VAT exemption, which are extremely difficult to estimate.

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Black eye for Barrick taints Canada, critic says – by Lisa Wright (Toronto Star – May 19, 2011)

Lisa Wright is a business reporter with the Toronto Star, which has the largest circulation in Canada. The paper has an enormous impact on Canada’s federal and provincial politics as well as shaping public opinion. This article was originally published May 18, 2011.

Barrick Gold Corp. has tainted Canada’s international mining image, say industry observers, as police and company officials investigate why seven people were killed at the gold giant’s troubled Tanzanian mine.

“I think it’s a big hit on their reputation. That’s a lot of people to die at one time on a mine site,” said Toronto activist Sakura Saunders, co-founder of the ProtestBarrick.net website.

Police at the North Mara mine near the Kenyan border, a site run by its African Barrick Gold division, opened fire Monday when about 800 villagers stormed the site with machetes, hammers and rocks to reportedly steal valuable gold ore.

All’s quiet since then at the site says a spokesman, while an internal investigation by the company — majority-owned by Toronto-based Barrick — and a separate one by Tanzanian police begins into the deaths and the estimated dozen injured in the violent confrontation.

“We are reviewing the security situation at North Mara but it will take some time to unravel,” said Charles Chichester, a spokesman for the London-based company.

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Snake oil and the Myth of Corporate Social Responsibility [Canadian Mining Companies] – by JP LaPlante and Catherine Nolin (Canadian Dimension – Jan/Feb 2011)

Canadian Dimension is a Canadian leftist magazine founded in 1963 by Cy Gonick and published out of Winnipeg, Manitoba six times a year.

In March 2009, Canada released its long-awaited response to calls for regulatory oversight of the overseas operations of extractive industries such as mining and oil. The Conservative government’s Building the Canadian Advantage: A Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Strategy for the Canadian International Extractive Sector was drafted in response to years of public, civil society, and parliamentary pressure to remove the impunity with which Canadian extractive companies operate overseas. A 2005 parliamentary report calling on legal reform, and subsequent government-industry-civil society National Roundtables – resulting in recommendations for an independent ombudsman’s office – did little to counter mining industry lobbying and a receptive Conservative government.

The resulting corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy is a tepid response that has no teeth, but we find it a useful starting point to understand just what is CSR and how the world of corporate public relations is appropriating the term for their own benefit.

Nearly every major extractive industry player has adopted voluntary CSR policies or social sustainability statements and a growing body of consultants, socially responsible investors, and NGOs are debating how to promote it. However, ongoing violations of human rights beg the question: is talking in terms of CSR useful to those trying to seek justice for harms committed by Canadian multinationals?

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Seven ‘intruders’ killed at African Barrick mine – Peter Koven (National Post – May 18, 2011)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper. Peter Koven is the Post’s mining reporter. This article was originally published in the Financial Post on May 18, 2011. pkoven@nationalpost.com

When Barrick Gold Corp. spun its African properties into a new company last year, investors knew they were being sold high-risk assets that had their share of problems.

But they didn’t imagine this.

On Tuesday, African Barrick Gold PLC reported details of a horrifying incident at its North Mara mine in Tanzania. According to the company, about 800 “criminal intruders” armed with machetes, rocks and hammers broke into the mine site and tried to steal gold ore. The Tanzanian police were called in and were forced to open fire after being attacked by the intruders. Seven people were killed and another 12 injured.

“The police are making an investigation, so more details will come from them in the days and weeks to come,” a spokesman for London-based African Barrick said.

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NEWS RELEASE: African Barrick Gold plc: Security incident at North Mara

17 May 2011

On 16 May 20011, a number of the Tanzanian Police (FFU) came under sustained attack by approximately 800 criminal intruders who illegally entered the North Mara mine site and attempted to remove ore from the run of mine (ROM) pad.

The FFU had been called to the area to respond and were set upon by the criminal intruders armed with machetes, rocks and hammers.

According to information received, a number of intruders sustained gunshot wounds, resulting in seven intruder fatalities and twelve injuries.

The police have begun an investigation into the incident. Additional police have been deployed to the area. African Barrick Gold has also initiated an internal company investigation. There have been no material impacts to the operation or production.

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Barrick Gold’s security kill 7 at Tanzania mine – by Lisa Wright/Jocelyn Edwards (Toronto Star – May 18, 2011)

Lisa Wright is a business reporter with the Toronto Star, which has the largest circulation in Canada. The paper has an enormous impact on Canada’s federal and provincial politics as well as shaping public opinion. This article was originally published May 18, 2011.

Lisa Wright in Toronto and Jocelyn Edwards in Tanzania 

Security forces at African Barrick Gold’s North Mara mine in Tanzania killed seven “criminal intruders” and injured a dozen more after 800 people stormed the project armed with machetes, rocks and hammers in a bid to steal gold ore.

Police were called to the area on Monday and “came under sustained attack” by hundreds of people who illegally entered the mine site to try to remove ore from one of the crushers, said a statement released by the London-based company, which is a majority-owned subsidiary of Toronto’s Barrick Gold Corp.

“A number of intruders sustained gunshot wounds, resulting in seven intruder fatalities and 12 injuries,” said the release. The deadly clash is the latest in an ongoing battle between the giant Canadian miner and locals who scavenge for gold-laced rocks on the lucrative property, which Barrick acquired in 2006.

The price of gold has tripled in value since then, reaching a record high of $1,540.25 (U.S.) an ounce earlier this month and making it all the more attractive to villagers involved in illegal small-scale mining.

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